life (and death) lessons from a fish

Today I buried Tibu. He was one month short of being five. It is also International Happiness Day, and I think this is absolutely beautiful – here’s why:

Five years ago, just a couple of weeks after my mom died, Candice shoved a fish on me, and a part of me wanted to shove her to the ground. (I refrained because I also appreciated the thoughtfulness of her gesture). But the part of me that wanted to shake her silly wanted to because I could not handle being around a living creature that would just DIE on me. I didn’t want to end up loving a little fish just to have it DIE on me. I was so tired of death, and dying, and going on like everything was ok. I felt like the fish was death taunting me, reminding me that life sucks, we all DIE. I really did not want much to do with that fish, Tibu. Most days I would come home with my anxiety skyrocketing with the fear of finding him floating at the surface of his fish bowl. I always expected to see him there DEAD. Some days I would even wish he was dead just so I could get it over with, so I could stop worrying, so I could say: HA! You’re DEAD and I don’t care!

But Tibu did not die. And also, life does not suck. Yes we all die, I know (I spent so much time weighed down thinking about all this). But Tibu kept on living. And, well, so did I. More importantly, I learned to be happy. Not happy about anything in particular, just happy with living.

I don’t know how many eulogies have been written about fish, but I will say this about Tiburon: he helped me recognize an important life lesson: be happy. Can there be higher praise for a fish?? Also, he lived for five years! FIVE YEARS! I can’t keep plants alive, so this is no small feat on his part.

Happy International Day of Happiness!

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