I walked in the front door from my run this morning and Maria ran to the top of the stairs to stop me. “Mom, come quick, my fish is gone!” I ran up the stairs to find Jon and Mario in her room peering inside her tank. There was only one fish swimming around rather than two. I looked at Jon with the “is something bad happening that you can’t tell me in front of the kids look” but he just looked at me perplexed. Mario couldn’t keep his mouth shut, however.
“I think my fish had to eat Maria’s fish. It just had to. Look how big my fish is today!” All the while he was smiling and excited about this super cool act performed by his fish. Maria, on the other hand, curled her knees up to her chest on her bed and bawled like a baby who just had her doll pulled from her arms. Between wails, she’d cry:
“My Orangey fish! He got eaten by Mario’s stupid fish. Orangey is dead. No. No. No.”
It was 7:55 when all of this went down. Ri had to be at school at 8:20. Needless to say, I assumed she’d get her first tardy of the quarter. But we hugged and talked and somehow got ourselves up and out the door to school. We made it right on time and explained to Mrs. Palmer that Orangey had died. She gave Ri a hug and Ri dragged me over to her locker. I gave her one last hug goodbye and watched her sit somberly at her table as I left. I got out of my 11:30 meeting early so I could run over and see her at recess. She was talking to her Kindergarten teacher when I spotted her and when she saw me she ran right over to me and embraced me tightly.
She told me she was feeling a little better but didn’t feel like playing too much. I explained to her that she may be sad for a while and that she just needed to explain what happened to her friends if they asked her what was the matter. I called Jon to report her status and we both agreed that Mario’s fish must have eaten Orangey. But one goldfish eating another after four years? We checked all over the floor and behind the dresser though and there was no Orangey.
When our babysitter picked her up, she told him that Mario’s fish ate her fish. He laughed. He is 21 years old and a boy. What do you expect? She cried. He apologized. She cried more. Jon cheered her up by telling her that we would go out to dinner at Tommy’s Pizza. That soothed her for a while. But when we got home, she jumped right in to making a grave for Orangey, and a tombstone, and a eulogy for her, me, Jon, and Mario. She was planning his funeral for later in the evening.
The funeral went off without a hitch. We all sat on our bed except for Ri who led the program. She began the service with her eulogy:
“You were a nice fish, Orangey. People die and people are born. There is sad times and happy. We love you.”
Well, none of us could beat that. I read mine, dad read his, and Mario read his. Then Ri brought out Orangey’s grave and his tombstone. We all had to sign it. Then she read his will.
“Orangey gave everything to Maria and her family.”
Jon and I had done a good job hiding our smiles up to this point but then we busted out a laugh. Ri understood. Funerals are about remembering happy times, too, she informs me. Then she began to sing the words of her eulogy. Again, Jon and I failed to control our chuckles. Jon had to sing his eulogy, too, and he did it in his baritone voice. Mario and Maria loved it and begged for more (Mario looked at me and whispered “I wish this day would never end!”).
After Jon’s song, Mario took off to his room and got his plant. He brought it to Ri and told her that he wanted to give it to Orangey for his grave. Maria was thrilled. The two of them went to Maria’s room and placed all of the items by her closet door. The funeral was over. Time to get back to life. RIP Orangey Bobcat Ionno.