Engelbert’s Official Eulogy: It’s never easy when a pet dies. Especially one that you have formed such an emotional connection with. This post is about my fish. Before you call me crazy for loving a fish so much, I just want to say that he was more than a fish to me; he was more like a dog. (As crazy as that sounds). A pet is a pet no matter what . . . mostly, I don’t form an emotional connection with my pet fish, but for Engelbert, I had. He was born late August 2012 and lived until May 4th, 2014.
The story starts off with me going to PetSmart on September 7th, 2012, to pick up some new fish. I had a fish named “Santa’s Favourite Elf” (don’t ask me why – me and an old friend named it) that had died, and I needed new ones. I bought a whole bunch of fish, including black goldfish and gold mystery snails. Then, a worker there came up to me and said: “Hi, we have a fish with only one eye and we can’t sell it, and nobody wants it, so do you want it? It’s free.” I was like, okay, cool, free fish! She showed me it, and at first I thought it was pretty ugly ’cause y’know one eye and everything. He didn’t lose it in a fight, he just was a very sick and mutated fish. His eye was actually still there, just dug really, really deep into his body so of course he was unable to use it. So there I am, I’m off with my new fish and whatever. I get home, put them in a tank. Within a month, every single one of the fish in there except for Engelbert was dead. (Also, I named him Engelbert because at the time I thought he needed an ugly name to fit him . . . That was so mean, he’s like the cutest fish ever) One of the black goldfish literally jumped out of the tank (stupid fish), and I found him on the floor, all dried up, with his tail sticking in the air. He must’ve been flapping around out of the water. He had a brother or sister, and then they died a week later. They stared out into the spot where he had jumped out, it was pretty sad. Fish have good relationships with each other and feelings, too. We don’t give fish enough credit. They’re not smart but they are way smarter than we give them credit for. Did you know fish can actually see in colour? Not many animals can. Fun fact. Anyway, caring on. Then the snails died. One was a mom and one was a daughter, it was so cute. The daughter would ride on the mom’s shell everywhere around the tank. But then, the daughter died, and the mother was so distraught she refused to come out of her shell so eventually she died, possibly from starvation because she refused to eat. I think there was other fish, too, but anyway, there was Engelbert. My brother and I had a mini contest going. He told me Engelbert would be the first to die, and I said, he’d be the last. I won. Woo-hoo. His tank was directly beside my bed, and I had the honour of being able to watch him almost 24/7. I even wrote a blog post over a year ago on my old blog about him. Soon, his infectious happiness just seemed to grow on me.
Engelbert was the happiest fish I have ever seen. Seriously. The healthiest fish I have ever had will just sit there staring off into nothing and only swim around when necessary. Engelbert was in pain half of his life, yet he loved food. And he was a smart cookie. I would show him his food, and he would swim in circles, flip around. Food excited him, it was so cute. My mom and I referred to him as a “dog”. That’s how he acted around food. Also, he loved money. If you put a bill up to his tank, he’d get really excited. Also if you waved to him – he loved people. Sometimes it looked like he even waved back.
Here is some of the conditions that he had and miraculously recovered from:
I used to call him my “miracle fish”. I still do. You know Finding Nemo, where Dory says: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming”? I also used to say that Engelbert was the one who invented that quote, because it just related to him so much. When he turned purple and bled and skin peeled, he would swim around more than any of the other healthy fish. He loved to swim. Sorry, Dory. Engelbert did it better.
Again, he was just a fish, yet Engelbert always surprised me, and never failed to inspire me. We were almost together for two years, and it’s been a good one. I would always fear the way he died. I’m not religious, but even I prayed that Engelbert would just die a peaceful, painless death at an old age. He had a happy life, that’s for sure, and enjoyed life’s simple pleasures (of being a fish, anyway). His bloating would come and go, but about two months ago, he started becoming so bloated, I thought he would explode. His natural bright orange colour faded away into a pale, sick-looking yellow colour. His scales puffed out and became filled with a white liquid and his whole body was bleeding from the inside and out. Every day he would be bleeding and it was really hard to watch. It looked really painful, yet still, that little guy refused to give up. My friend told me, “If he’s still swimming it means he’s still fighting and not ready to die”. And that really kept me going and felt good. Although he was very large and had difficulty swimming, he still did it, and loved it – especially the food part. Then, weeks and weeks went by. The tank got filthy, he looked even more sick. He couldn’t even swim. I think he died because dropsy is the process of having a weak immune system, so the fish’s body can no longer process water, and it gets built up inside of you – so I think he died by having his insides crushed, which makes me feel even more sad. He was such a happy fish and did not deserve any of that to happen to him. I’m not saying any fish deserves it, but, especially not him – he loved life as a fish and was always so happy and didn’t stop fighting until he couldn’t fight anymore. A few weeks ago, (the weekend of May 4th), he stopped swimming. I would show him the food, you could see his eye dance but he couldn’t move to eat. He tried so hard, he just couldn’t move. He couldn’t swim. He couldn’t get up for food. And if I tried waving to him, he would try his hardest to swim away and avoid eye contact, almost as if he was ashamed of being seen looking like that. It was so sad. It pains me to say this, but, it was better off this way. I couldn’t keep seeing him in pain day after day. So finally, on May 4th, I was writing some of my book and I reached over on my bed to look at the rough copy of it for notes and his mouth was clamped shut, so I knew he stopped breathing.
Whenever a pet or someone I know dies, I just want to get in the funeral and out as soon as possible. I still feel bad about this, but, I didn’t really do anything special for his death. We flushed him in the toilet, and I said a couple nice words. In my head, I was ranting off into paragraphs (sort of like this). So I guess this is kind of late, but, this is for you, Engelbert! It was really hard to say goodbye because I didn’t want to. Not for years to come. He was my special little fish and I loved him with all of my heart. ❤
Then, I felt even worse because I heard a lot about people burying their favourite fish, not flushing them. I felt so guilty because since he meant soooo much to me, I had myself going: “Why didn’t I bury him? I’m such a terrible person.” Then my dad and boyfriend helped me a lot by saying: “Engelbert would have wanted to be in the ocean where all of the other fish are. The water is where fish belong, not in the ground. Water is their habitat, where they’re meant to be, and where they want to be.” Now I feel way better. (And then my boyfriend was saying how dirty the water is that there could be some kind of nuclear distortion in the water that would make him come back to life as a super fish. Haha, he’s insane.)
So I miss seeing him next to me every night, I miss being able to watch his happiness, I miss being able to become happy by being with him, and I miss him overall. Sometimes I blame myself and I know I shouldn’t. I loved him so much and hopefully he knew it. I had to spend several nights with his dirty water in an alone, empty tank beside my bed which made matters worse. Now, I have new fish to live on in his memory. I will miss you, Engelbert! This blog post is for your memory as well.
I could go on much longer, but I’ll just leave it with this: Thank you so much, Engelbert. For teaching me to be strong when I feel weak, for teaching me to keep moving when I didn’t want to do anything, and for inspiring me to always be happy. ❤ You were my favourite fish and will always be my favourite fish, and I will never forget you. Hopefully you are somewhere in fishy heaven right now reading this and dancing around happily. 🙂
(and thanks to Chocolate and Chip and all other pets and humans who have helped me through it. Couldn’t have done it without you!) 🙂