Life With Ladybug: Deep blue

By Shannon Magsam, mama to ladybug

My intentions were good. I’d remove the dead fish, Mrs. Sassypants, from the tank and replace her with a new Betta. Ladybug would be none the wiser and the crisis could be averted.

I’d seen Mrs. Sassypants — a Siamese Fighting Fish — floating belly-up that morning before school. I quickly turned the fish tank light back off and hustled Ladybug out of her bedroom for breakfast. After she was at school, John took Mrs. Sassypants and put her in a baggie half-filled with water. When I picked up the baggie, she swished back and forth in the bottom in a way that looked like she was still alive. Poor Mrs. Sassypants.

She was our favorite fish.

We’ve had plenty of fish funerals over the years, some more traumatic than others. I knew this one would be more. That’s why I went for deceit.

John said, “You’re going to lie about it?”

“If that’s what you want to call it,” I replied.

My plan was to carry Mrs. S. with me to the pet store so I could “match” her to a replacement. But in my haste to leave in time for a doctor’s appointment, I left her in the baggie in the fish tank.

Undeterred, I went to the pet store after my appointment. After a thorough search, I concluded that there was no other Betta worthy of Mrs. S. there. Then! My eye fell on a close second. I bought her (really a him) and brought her home to Ladybug’s fish tank. As the fake fish swam around, I compared him to Mrs. S, who was in the baggie. I immediately saw that the new fish was no match for Mrs. Sassypants, who was known for his beautiful purple-pink tail. This new one just wasn’t as pretty, no matter at what angle I compared the two.

I knew I’d have to tell her the truth. Not long after she came home, Ladybug looked in the tank but didn’t comment about the fish. I decided that even though she didn’t notice the difference I wouldn’t lie. I told her that Mrs. S had died and I thought the fish tank looked so empty without all that beautiful blue swishing around, I had decided to get another Betta. She cried, for sure, but I think she was comforted by the counterfeit just a little.

Mrs. S. got buried out back in the “cat garden” along with some of her former fallen fish. She got her due and the respect of being mourned. Even though she was only a fish, (s)he was well-loved.

Up next: “Anchovy”.

Shannon Magsam is mom to sweet (and salty) Ladybug, married to Ladybug’s dad, John, and co-creator of Comment if you’re a fellow fish lover.