Guppy Fish

I will never forget the 100 guppy fish that lay beneath the soil of my childhood home. 100 guppy fish who came to their demise due to the innocent act of changing the temperature of the water in the tank. 100 guppy fish that lost their lives to the woman with blond hair and blue eyes, 5'3”, and a heart that holds the weight of the world. But do not fear, the perpetrator responsible for this crime organized separate funerals for all 100 of these tiny silverfish, all the while helping my sister and I find a special place to bury them all. Not only did she lead the burial service, she also made hot chocolate after the burial to help any feelings of grief fade away with each sip. Indeed I am the daughter of the said perpetrator. Growing up, my family and friends would echo the words, “Your mom is perfect, you must have learned everything you know from her.” I smile when they tell me this, usually responding with the words, “I know” or “You're right”. Admittedly, my mind wanders back to the guppy incident that happened so many years ago. This is not to say that I do not acknowledge my mother's many magnificent qualities. Like the way, she lights up a room with her smile, or her daring sense of adventure, always trying to find a way to make anything happen. I could talk about how her charming personality attracts strangers in grocery stores to come over just to say hello, or confide in her with their personal life experiences as she loads her cart with frozen vegetables. I could talk about how she embarked on a cross-country journey with a stranger. Driving from Boston Massachusetts to Arizona to pursue her passion for art. I could talk about how she is a published children's book author-illustrator who has an undying love for anthropomorphic animals. And though these things are true, I refuse to forget the moment innocent fish perished years ago, and the funeral we had for them. The 100 guppy fish we obtained when I was only 6 years old. Because if I were to forget about the guppies, I would forget about the way I watched her set up a nursery for all the newborn fish because she knew how excited her daughters would be to see the newborns. I would forget the way she held me when I got out of school after she broke the bad news, that she had accidentally changed the temperature of the water in the tank a few degrees to warm. I would forget about the trip to pet smart that occurred soon after the burial, telling my dad not to worry we are just going to “look” at the hamsters, and I would forget about the hamsters that were purchased later that day. I can't forget about the guppy fish because I can't forget any memories I have with my mom. As I am sure, anyone who meets her would hate to forget the woman who only eats the sugary tops of baked muffins. The woman is from the east coast but is bundled in a jacket and gloves anytime the weather hits below 70 degrees. The woman who knows what it is like to grow up with nothing but so willingly gives everything. The woman who doesn't let me forget about the guppies because, truly, there is light in every moment in life. So in turn, I am proud to be the daughter of the perpetrator of the mass murder of guppy fish. I am proud that I do not do well with the cold and enjoy eating the sugary tops of baked muffins. I am proud that she has come to success in writing and illustrating children's books. But I am even more proud that she creates a space where anyone can come to feel at peace. A place where friends, family, and strangers come to feel at home. A place where friends come up to me and ask to come over because my house is a place of acceptance. I have found “perfect” is perhaps not the right word, and also, I have come to realize that I wouldn't want it to be. I mean perfect doesn't come with mud pies, massive pillow forts, or star gazing on the hood of the car in the driveway. Perfect doesn't come with unexplainable tears that you just can't seem to stop, and perfect certainly doesn't come with the burial of 100 guppy fish. But I couldn't be prouder of the perfectly imperfect world she has created for me. So, I would like to thank the perpetrator for giving me a home with walls I can draw on and carpeted floors so that when I trip over my feet, it's soft when I land. Most importantly, I would like to thank her for teaching me how to make gravestones. A simple rock with a smooth face inscribed with one word serves as a reminder to remember. I would like to thank her for, after every imperfection, she would remind me that it is just another rock I can write on. Taking the hurt to the grave but never losing sight of what it taught me. These gravestones act as pillars showing me how much I have grown. They resemble the strength she has embedded in me from a young age to overcome life's imperfections. Because of my mom, I am able to stand with about a thousand gravestones. Because of my mom, I chose not to forget but instead cherish the imperfect.

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