Anthony Konrad was at work when he received a panicked call from his wife. Their son’s beloved goldfish died. His wife was unsure of what to do because as soon as their two-year-old son awoke, he would go straight to the bowl to check on his fish. Konrad told his wife to be honest with his son and let him know that sometimes these things happen. He didn’t really know the best way to explain it to a young child.
As she had feared, when Eli woke up from his slumber, he went to the bowl to find his friend Sammy floating belly up. The child was only two, but he knew and could comprehend that his fish was not moving and was dead. He began to sob and cry, and his mom couldn’t console him. A quick call to dad might do the trick, but Konrad was unable to comfort the child either. He suggested they have a funeral ceremony to remember the fish and all the good times, and it would give his son closure.
Eli and his mom headed to the bathroom. Eli was holding the giant goldfish in his hand. He kept petting it on the side, trying to show the fish some affection. At one point, the little boy took the fish to his mouth and kissed it. How sweet was that? You could quickly see that he was a bit overwhelmed by the “fishy” taste. He stood there with his mom next to the great, white throne.
Eli’s mother explained to him what was going to happen and that they should say their goodbyes. The brave toddler put the fish into the toilet and hit the flush button. However, after he did the royal flush, he then realized that his friend was gone forever. More tears erupted, and the toddler once again became inconsolable. Death is such a hard topic for children, and how can adults explain it when it’s really something that they don’t understand either?
The little boy’s dreams were shattered when his best friend passed. It won’t be the first time in life that he will experience loss. However, his mother and father were powerful and taught him that it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to grieve, and you always have to say goodbye. To some, it was just an inexpensive goldfish, but to Eli, it was his best friend in the world.
Thankfully, dad brought home a new goldfish. He chose a different color so that the child would be able to identify this was a new fish and not a replacement. The simple act of diversion allowed Eli to recover quickly. When his mother asked him what he wanted to name the goldfish, the answer promptly rolled off his tongue. This fish would be called Sammy II. Though no fish would ever be as wonderful as the first Sammy, you can be sure that Sammy II will be there every morning to greet the two-year-old when he wakes up.