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Death and Honor of a Tiny Life

I discovered our betta fish died last night. I was about to clean her tank, when I found her unresponsive. I'd like to share a few thoughts that have come up through this experience, that some might feel is not a big deal, but I think we should learn from the little things that happen in life as well. Through this unexpected experience, my kids and I have processed thoughts about death, guilt, uncertainty, and life after death.

First, we had just recently adopted a couple of kittens, so why did we decide to grow our pet family with this betta fish? Well, here's the short story behind it. We found a sea creature on one of our trips to the beach this summer. My son asked if he could take it home as a pet. We went over to the pet store to purchase a small fish tank to put it in, keeping it in the beach water we brought him in. While there, we passed by the betta fish and my son mentioned he would want one. A little while after, we went back to purchase a small beta fish to put it next to his other mysterious sea creature. My son thought he would like to gift his sister with a betta fish as well using his own money, and so I remember that day, searching for a female betta and finally finding one. My daughter carried it to the check out and grabbed a small pink castle for her fish tank. We took care of her for months. We loved seeing her come to us to eat and spending some time in her castle. We didn't understand why she spent so much time resting, so we were shocked to learn the news last night. I didn't know how such a tiny little fish could make you feel as if fish have a cute personality. My daughter and I would joke when it was just me and her and Sunny saying, "It's just the girls". We did our best to take care of her, and we really did love her. I called my husband in to confirm what I suspected, and he did. I felt guilt and a sense of I'm holding something dead, as I held Sunny in a bag, looking for a little box to put her in to bury her the next day. I told my daughter the sad news, and both of us as well as my son wept.

There's something so sad about a person, as tiny as it was, and as short of a time as we had her, being gone and feeling confused about what was the cause. It was our little family's first time experiencing a taste of death. I thought to myself, "Why is this so upsetting?" and I remembered what I've learned in the past about how death is not what God wanted, but a result of sin being introduced into this world. Sunny's death pointed towards the ugly reality that death is a very real part of life and something inside of us seems to know: it shouldn't be this way. I thought about how awful it is for people who have experienced much greater loss. I remembered other things I've heard from Christians that believe God can make it possible for us to be reunited with our lost pets in eternity. We decided to give my kids hope with this thought. We were also encouraged that we provided a lot of love and care for this little fish that was initially in a very small container in the pet shop. I decided to bury him in the backyard, close to the window of the room Sunny lived in, and I planted mums on top. I thought to myself, "We honor those we love." I then thought about all the little unborn lives that are not honored, but are instead abandoned and discarded with a worse end than that of our little betta fish. I pray God helps humanity value life, because they value God, and may He also make us a light in this dark world.


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