Pets & Kids & Death: A Tale Of A Fish Named Leo Jack CoppaChristine Coppa
I woke up this morning to the usual: JD ran into my room, jumped in my bed and asked for milk, cereal and cartoons. I looked at the clock on my iPhone. It was freakin 5:30 AM. I’m working from home today, so I got up and made a sippy cup of milk, poured some Apple Jack’s into a clown cup and turned the TV on in my room. Before I crawled back to bed, I noticed it was … freezing and it was: 64 degrees in my condo—d’oh.
I left the living room window open a crack and mine too. I’m not ready for heat, so I just shut the windows and went back to bed. At 7 AM we both moved to the living room. I did my normal routine: Made coffee and opened the living room blinds to let the light in. And that’s when I saw it.
Leo Jack Coppa the fish was … dead. He was lateral. He was not moving. JD was deep into a Lego project. I quickly moved Leo’s tank from JD’s little art table by the window and placed him on the kitchen counter under the cabinets that have track lighting underneath them. I didn’t do this for any particular reason—in fact, I did it to HIDE Leo.
See, JD has a love/I-don’t-care-about-Leo relationship. Aunt Jemma got him Leo for his 5th birthday, but let’s face it: He’s not a furry golden retriever. Some days JD wants to feed him and tap on his tank and other days, it’s like Leo doesn’t even live here. This was the mood this morning—thank God!
I felt bad Leo died, but I added “buy replacement fish” to my to-do list, drank my coffee, washed and cut-up berries, made pancakes and packed JD’s lunch. I didn’t let it rattle me. The fish is dead, but life moves on and I could easily fix this without letting JD know Leo perished.
One of the reasons I planned to get a replacement fish was because my mom’s Beta just bit it. Her name was Katelyn. JD named her. She survived all summer at the beach and now JD believes she is in heaven with Nanny (my dad’s mom) and Brandy (my childhood dog)—I made the parental choice not to tell JD Leo died.
JD washed up. I showered. We dressed. While JD put his sneakers on, I carried the dishes and cups from the table to the sink and counter area and that’s when I saw it.
Leo. Leo alive. Leo prevailing. Leo swimming. It is my belief Leo A. Is a miracle Beta. B. God was throwing me a bone and cutting me a break after 31 years of major life sh*t and C. That the warm track lighting heated up the water and rebooted Leo’s nervous system (this is prob what happened, ah).
I was so happy, I yelled “LEO!” and JD ran over to his art table and then wanted to know why Leo wasn’t there. Gulp. I explained I moved Leo to the counter because it was too chilly-willy by the windows. I fibbed. We fed Leo. He ate. HE ATE! He was no longer floating in the lateral position.
“Bye, Leo!” JD said and we headed out to school. The whole way there and back I wished for Leo to be swimming in a sea of warm Poland Spring water when I returned. And he was. And I am buying him a heating pad today.
Leo is a true Coppa. We fall on our a*ses. Life hands us lemons. But we survive. No matter what. We just keep swimming …
Please share your kid / pet stories. I’d love to hear em!
My friend Dustin recently shared this: “I put a beta in the toilet once because I thought he was dead. He started swimming. I let him love in there for several days to make sure he was really going to make it.”