Dear Royal Friends ~
This is the story of a very, very special little fish in my life.
I am reaching out to you right now with something that has made me very sad. It would be comical, if I weren’t actually crying about it, which is making it hard for me to write. My fish just died. Her name was Fiskie. I have no idea what gender Fiskie was, but since this is a kingdom of princesses, I’ve assigned her to our team.
As soon as I named Fiskie, I began to notice her in a different way. She began to matter. As explained by the wise fox in Saint Exupery’s story, “The Little Prince,” the way you establish a friendship is you tame someone. You sit closer and closer every day to a spot you know they will be coming, and you excitedly anticipate their arrival. Day after day, until one day, you find yourself in a friendship. A bond. You’ve been tamed.
That’s what happened to me and Fiskie. We had a ritual. I came downstairs every morning with my little Frenchie, Lalo, I lifted Lalo up to the glass of the aquarium, and we both said good morning to Fiskie. I tapped my finger on the upper left hand corner of the aquarium, and in a few seconds, Fiskie would arrive. She always came out from behind whatever seaweed she was resting in and swam over to meet us in the upper left-hand corner. Always. Reliably. And no, she wasn’t looking for food. By the time I come downstairs in the morning, my husband had already fed her. She was looking for us.
Fiskie was the last fish left in our once fish-populated aquarium. We left her in there by herself, because she did so well when everyone else in her habitat tanked, pardon the pun. We worried that by bringing more fish in at this point, we might introduce a fungus or disease. I began feeling sorry for this little fish. I began to worry that she might be lonely.
I decided that the only compassionate thing to do, if we were going to keep her in solitary confinement, would be to become a sort of surrogate fish friend. So what’s the first thing you do when you befriend someone? You find out their name. Hence, she became Fiskie. That’s when the attachment began.
I’ve only become attached to one other fish in my life; it was a goldfish that I had named Lucky. I had won her at the annual Myers Elementary school fair when I was six, and I walked her home in a clear plastic bag filled with water. Her name was well-deserved, as she lived three years. I found out Lucky passed away when I came home from school. I bet it was a Wednesday. My mother is a doctor and in old school fashion, she didn’t work on Wednesdays. I cried when Lucky died. My mother assured me she gave Lucky a proper burial place outside in our backyard. Even at nine or so years old, I knew my mother better than that. Lucky almost certainly got a sea burial.
Funny thing about being tamed. I started relating to Fiskie differently. For the most part, the change was that I started to care about her. Whereas in the past (before I named her) if I had to feed her (it was my husband’s “job”), I looked at it as a chore. But after I named her, feeding her was a joy, an act of love. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? An act of love for a fish. But when you are tamed by someone, everything changes.
The months went by and Fiskie and I had our rituals. In the morning and during the day, I tapped on the upper left-hand corner of the aquarium, and Fiskie would energetically swim over to meet me, tail swishing. It seemed to me that she was dancing. She hovered there, where my fingers touched the glass, and it almost seemed like she wanted me to pet her. At night, if I remembered, I said goodnight. Usually the tank was already dark. I hope she heard.
As the days and months went on, I changed in other ways because of Fiskie. I have been a vegetarian for years, with the exception that I ate fish. I characterized myself as a “pescetarian,” so as not to piss off the hard core. I had been toying with the idea of following a vegan diet, but as a foodie and a gastronaut, I do a lot of “recreational eating.” I love to dine out with family and friends. What was I supposed to eat? The options didn’t sound appealing.
A funny thing happened on the way to the aquarium one day. Fiskie and I were hanging out at our spot in the upper left corner. I had an epiphany. I looked her in the face, and realized it was no longer possible for me to eat fish. If I ate fish, I might as well be taking a fork and knife to my little friend. And that was unthinkable. And that was that.
I have been eating on a vegan regime for a little over a month now. It comports wholly with my soul. It feels totally in alignment with my goals. I can’t believe how easy it’s been. I’m sure that’s because of Fiskie. I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to make this change, a change that was inspired by my little golden friend.
Who would have known that I made this change just in time. Today, I am sad to day, my inspirational little friend passed away. It’s funny, because I had an intuition that something was ailing her. She was normally a beautiful, bright and silvery gold. In the past few days, the silver part was starting to look darker and a little grayish, almost as if she were fading. I didn’t know if that meant anything; it was just an observation. But in addition, in the past few days, she wasn’t rushing over to meet me so fast when I tapped on the glass at “our spot.” And when she did make it over, she didn’t dance.. But I’m no fish vet. Maybe I was imagining things. That’s what we hope, I think, when our intuition tells us something unpleasant.
My intuition was right. An hour ago, my husband called out to me that “the fish died.” My heart gripped. I heaved up from my chair at the kitchen table where I work, and ran over to the aquarium. There she was, on the left hand corner of the tank. But this time, she wasn’t dancing to the touch of my finger, or to the silly face of Lalo. She was lying motionless, and on the bottom.
So crazy, I know, but I am crying now even as I write this. The damn thing was a fish! But tell that to my tear ducts and to my heart. Fish or no fish, I’m in pain. She was my friend. She tamed me.
I am so glad that I made my vegan change before Fiskie passed. I got to honor my little friend while she was alive. Perhaps in some way she even knew. When I played with her after I stopped eating fish, I actually felt a relief. I can’t explain it well. Perhaps it was that before, I felt like I was an impostor friend, because I was playing with her, but still eating her friends.
As much as my heart is hurting (still unbelievable to me), there’s good news here. I think, if we can know and understand that it’s possible to be tamed by a little fish, just think of the possibilities that stand before us with our two-legged human friends. If we sit a little closer, if we get to know who we really are, this is always the bridge for beginning to care. Perhaps we can learn from a fish named Lucky and Fiskie, and the Fox in the Little Prince. When we tame each other…there are so many possibilities for change.
PRINCESS DIANE VON BRAINISFRIED!
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