Death of a Goldfish

My grandfather’s passing didn’t feel real. My memories of him are vague. I remember him watching TV while sitting on the overstuffed recliner in my parents’ house, remember him shuffling around his little house in Havertown, Pennsylvania on a muggy summer’s day wearing large, dark glasses for his cataracts. I don’t remember going to the funeral; I don’t think we did.

“Pop Pop,” as he was called, was a distant figure in my childhood. I couldn’t tell you what kind of man he was, only that he was here and now he’s gone. And yet, he looms, silently, as one of many holes in my life; one of the many, many questions I have now that I’m old enough to articulate them.

For a 7 year-old, death makes no sense. It’s an abstraction too big to worry about. It still doesn’t make sense, but I’ve learned to worry. Death ultimately became real for me a few years after my grandfather’s departure when my goldfish jumped out of his bowl and drowned in the air one night.

As we buried Steve — who after two years indoors had lost his copper scales and turned a ghostly, shimmering white — in the bushes in front of our apartment, I felt what I wished I had felt when my grandfather died. It was real.

— 30 —

I’m a writer in Flagstaff, AZ. You can follow my musings on life and death on Twitter: @jonnyeberle. As always, I appreciate your comments.

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