Cherie Priest

Tiny Godzilla since 1975

The old soul takes the road again

3 years, 4 months ago, around lunchtime

Today our betta went to that big fishbowl in the sky.

When we brought him home about a year ago we didn’t know how old he was – but it became apparent within a few months that this was a gent well into his middle age, and then some. Gradually he lost his color; by the time of his passing, he was nearly translucent. But he was only old, not sick or unhappy. He remained his personable little self, even as he grew slower and weaker … until about two weeks ago, when he began to fail in earnest.

I kept him warm and comfortable, and kept an eye on him. I promised myself that if he ever seemed to be in any pain, I’d do something. Otherwise, I’d let him live out his time in peace.

But this morning he didn’t do his usual arthritic happydance when I showed up to give him breakfast, and I knew the end was near. He could scarcely rise from the floor of his tank, and his breathing had become quite labored. Whereas before he’d merely seemed tired, today he was clearly in discomfort and distress. He couldn’t rise to reach the surface. He was slowly suffocating. So I did my research and bought a gentle anesthetic which sent him to sleep, and allowed him stay that way.

Honestly I feel kind of terrible about it, but he didn’t linger, panting and struggling for hours or days. He was out in seconds, and gone in minutes. So yeah, I do feel terrible. But I don’t regret it, and I’d do it again.

* * *

So here’s to Tesla Rex. He was always a sweetly cheerful old man, happily greeting anyone who passed by and/or came to sit beside his tank. He made me smile every morning with his wiggledance of “HOT DAMN, IT’S TIME FOR BREAKFAST!” and he always watched me with interest and good humor while I cleaned his tank – never fighting me about it, and always seeming genuinely grateful for the spruced-up digs every time I put him back.

I wish his time with us had been longer. But I’d like to think that we provided him with a fine retirement home, and I hope that in some odd, fishy fashion, he knew that we liked him an awful lot.