Technically, she was my oldest daughter's first pet. She was a betta (a trans-betta, if you wish; although she was among the male bettas at the pet store, my daughter quickly informed us that her new fish had told her she was a girl, and her name was Princess Amanda). She was gorgeous, too, all shimmer and irridescence in her royal blues, green, and violets. She was also spunky, zooming around her new fish bowl, which was, among other things, a one-eyed pink monster with bat wings and fangs.
My older daughter was vigilant in feeding and caring for Princess Amanda, especially after we warned her not to over-feed her. When our younger daughter, attempting to be helpful late last week, fed Princess Amanda a handful of betta food pellets, my hubby ended up scooping out over a dozen of them, and he and I both knew immediately that Princess Amanda might not make it.
It took several days, and we wondered at moments if maybe she would pull through. But she stopped eating, and only moved around to break the surface now and then for a bubble of air.
When we got home today, I found her unmoving at the bottom of her fish bowl. She was lying sideways. That's the moment I knew. I told my hubby, but neither of us was ready to tell our daughtrs. I waited till he had departed for an evening engagement. I fed them mac and cheese, and I waited. When they were done eating, I told them Princess Amanda had died, looking directly at my eldest as I said it. Shock, then grief, clouded her face. She got up to look at her fish. She had to see for herself; how could she take my word for it?
The next few minutes were minutes filled with tears and sadness and anguish, for both my daughters. I walked with them to the couch, and I held them close to me as they sobbed. I felt their grief and held it close, sharing their bitter cup.
Then I invited them to honor Princess Amanda by burying her in the earth. We moved her from her fish bowl to a smaller bowl, one that my oldest daughter would be able to carry with ease. We dug a shallow hole in the earth on the perimeter of our back deck. My oldest carried Princess Amanda; my youngest carried seeds that she and her sister had chosen. I carried fertile soil. Anastasia poured Princess Amanda and the water that surrounded her onto the earth she had chosen. Then she and her sister poured soil over her, telling her as they offered the soil what they loved about her. Then my girls scattered tiny carrot and tomato seeds over her, and I added a tiny layer of soil over the seeds to protect them with dark, nourishing moisture. And then my oldest daughter placed one of her prized rocks on top of the burial mound we had created. As all this took place, we talked about the circle of life, of being born, of dying, and of new life emerging from death. We talked about Princess Amanda's life, and how her body would become part of the nourishing soil that would help our seeds grow.
After the burial had concluded and some minutes had passed, I offered my Thea necklace to my oldest to wear as a comfort. She offered it to her sister a few minutes later, who's wearing it now for that same purpose.
Thea is the one who envelops my family with understanding and tears in this shadowy quiet. She is the one who is mourned as my daughters and I mourn the one we love, and she's the one we anticipate as new life emerges from what we have planted.
Blessed be the one we loved, we love, and we will forever love. ♥