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Lessons from the inevitable ending of festival-won fish

by Traci Schumacher on Tue, 11/05/2013 - 11:33am
Ralph, the fall festival goldfish.

The fall festival sent us home with three little goldfish: Ralph, Goldilocks, and AlphaStone. Three kids. Three fish. Perfect.

We pulled out our previously unused fish bowl, gravel, and plastic plants, and set up a fishy oasis in the kitchen. Three little fish swam, unconcerned. Excitement.

By Monday afternoon Goldilocks and AlphaStone floated, no longer troubled by the things of this world like when the yummy food flakes would appear again.

But now our trouble began. Tears streamed down little faces, heartbroken over the loss of their fishy friends. Only childlike love, open and unguarded, gives itself so completely to a fish.

So one remains swimming. At least for now. Until he, too, dies, which we all know he will. It's just a matter of time. And so my 7-year-old cries over the inevitable.

And I wonder, what was I thinking? Allowing into our home these exciting, little, living things that will surely die and surely disappoint. Excitement and happiness turn to tears and another life lesson.

Lessons are good, but I wasn't really up for this one. Not right now. Not so close to Grandpa's passing. With heart wounds still fresh, I'm sure some of the fishy tears are more about Grandpa. More about loss. More about death itself.

My 4-year-old, namer of AlphaStone, explained through his tears, “I just don't like it when fish are dying.” Nobody does, little man. Nobody does.

Death comes anyway, unwelcome, unexpected. There's no avoiding the great Good-bye. But still we can have hope (in Jesus). And still there is peace (in God's perfect love). And then comes strength as we rest in faith, by grace.

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