Flashback Friday: Belly Up 1994

Flashback Fridais a weekly series on “Hopes and Dreams.”  
Each Friday a different memory from Jessi’s or John’s past is posted.  You are invited to join the fun and record a memory of your own, too, whether it be on your blog, in your journal, in an audio file, etc.  The objective is to foster an appreciation and desire for personal record keeping as we are forming our personal histories.  Also, if you chose to blog your memory, you are invited to link up to our memory (but only if you wanna).   

As a 4th grader at Oakdale Elementary {Go Roadrunners!} one had the opportunity to attend a G.A.P. party {“Good Attitude Party” party} at the end of each quarter if one displayed a good attitude throughout the quarter and kept up on one’s school work.  It was actually kind of a big deal.  Especially to me.  It wasn’t easy for me to always qualify, but I worked my tushy off so that I could. 

The year was coming to an end, which meant that the largest G.A.P. party of them all was just around the corner—The Rendezvous!  It was talked about all year long.  You can imagine how ecstatic I was when I qualified.  It was actually a pretty close call, I remember.  But the day finally came and The Rendezvous was everything a little 4th grader could have hoped for.  There were booths for just about everything mountain-mannish, my favorite being the “fishing hole.”  If you could catch a goldfish swimming around in a huge barrel with your bare hands you got to take it home.
Well, my little 4th grade heart remembered at that moment that I had probably always wanted a goldfish, even though I hadn’t ever really thought about it before or made that known to my mom.  Plus, I knew how Mom felt about pet fish—she hated them and thought it was silly to devote any amount of energy and emotion and money to a stinky little thing.  This all ran through my head, but I justified my actions by reasoning, “Well, if I CATCH it then I’m not BUYING it, so Mom will probably LOVE it.”  And I just HAD to have me a goldfish!!  So I caught a little fish with my bare hands and affectionately named him “Shamu.”  I ran home as fast as I could after the party was over, so excited to share my victory with my mother.
She was less than impressed.  In fact, it took some very desperate begging and crying and “I’ll clean the house for four hours every day” deal-making before she agreed to let me keep the stinker in our home.  Plus I had to walk to the pet store and purchase a fish bowl and fish food with my own money.  So I did it, and the sacrifice made me love my Shamu that much more. 
In spite of my mom’s disenchantment towards Shamu, she taught me that it was very important to only feed Shamu one tablet of fish food a day.  She explained it was because he would just keep eating however much I gave him, and if I gave him, heaven forbid, MULTIPLE tablets then he would just eat until his belly would explode because he didn’t have the brain capacity to understand when he should stop eating.  That kind of mortified me, but I took that to heart and made sure to only feed him the appropriate amount that day so that our little love affair wouldn’t be cut short by me blowing him up. 
She also explained that the temperature of the water was very important.  It shouldn’t be too cold or too warm, otherwise his little body would go into shock and he would die.  Once again, that left an impression on me….. So I finally got him settled in his little fish bowl and fed him one tablet of fish food, and I could just tell he was the happiest goldfish in the world.  I couldn’t begin to describe my pride over Shamu. 
That was day one.  It was a blissful day. 
The next morning I tested the water temperature and fed Shamu his daily tablet, then bid my fish farewell as I skipped off to school.  I couldn’t stop thinking about him all day, and I was so excited to greet him upon my return.  When I got home I was horrified at the sight of my two-year-old sister Kelsey on the counter, dumping ice-cold Mount Olympus Spring Water and the ENTIRE bottle of fish food tablets into Shamu’s bowl!!  The humanity!!!  I screamed at her and rushed to Shamu’s side, having my worst fears of him exploding being confirmed.  Almost.  There was no explosion, but he was noticeably bloated and not swimming around at all.  He was just floating in the middle of the fish bowl. 
My heart was crushed. I immediately started attending to his needs, changing the now-mucky and freezing water, scooping out all the fish tablets floating on the surface.  I was basically digging his grave, I was so distraught.  Then it happened—he went belly up.  Full on.  My mom thought I should just flush him, but I could not bring myself to do it.  Not my little Shamu!  I couldn’t leave his side all day, and late into the night, even though I knew he was gone…. 
That night, when I finally decided I needed to go to sleep, I said a prayer that I remember to this day.  I knelt my little ten-year-old-self down at my bedside and wept to the heavens.  I pleaded with Heavenly Father to save my fish.  I explained that I knew it was a lot to ask, but that I needed a miracle.  I needed my fish back.  I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye.  I cried myself to sleep that night, on my knees, begging for just one more day.
That was day two.  It was a terrible day.
The next morning I awoke with puffy eyes and a foggy mind.  I was still so sad, but I had faith in my prayer.  I knelt down and said another prayer to prepare myself for what I might behold when I went in to Shamu, and then started the long walk down the hall and up the stairs to the kitchen where Shamu’s bowl resided.  I was scared to look over at his bowl, but when I finally brought myself to do it, I burst into tears at the sight of Shamu “swimming/floating” around in his bowl!  IT WAS A MIRACLE!!  He was resurrected!!  I knew my prayer had been heard and answered.  He was literally alive again!!  He was still very limp, but he was definitely NOT belly up.  And that was good enough for me.  
He was most definitely dead by the end of the day, but I had been given the day I had prayed for to say a proper goodbye and get closure.  Because of how special it was to me that Heavenly Father had heard my little prayer, I was emotionally able to hold a beautiful toilet-side service that evening and flush Shamu to heaven.  I learned so much about the power of faith through that experience, even though I was only 10 years old.
That was day three.  I will never forget that day.    


  1. livinghalfalive@gmail.com says:

    Ok, Number 1: I am so excited how much you have been blogging lately! It excites me. I’m sure it is simply because you are just bored to tears waiting around for biscuit. I know its frustrating but I am loving this little blog frenzy you’ve been on!
    Secondly: I love your flashback fridays. They are SO entertaining. You have such a talent for story telling that I simply adore. They make me literally LOL. And I miss you.
    I think that is all.

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