He went out in a most dramatic way. When we left to run errands he was fine, doing swimmingly even... It all happened so fast. (Or maybe it was slow? We were gone.)
When we returned home from the library and grocery store Joshua was the first in the door. I walked in to hear "mommy there's a fish on the floor by our deck." My first thought was What?!? But I looked over and sure enough, there was Michael, flopping on the floor by the patio door to the deck.
As far as we can figure, the water was a bit higher than usual and he jumped out. But, instead of staying there and waiting for help, he started on an adventure turned suicide-attempt. Somehow he survived the four-foot-drop off the island cupboard and flopped the 10 feet over to the deck door. The kids have never even watched Finding Nemo, so he couldn't have gotten any inspiration for an escape from that...but to the door he was drawn nonetheless. And there we found him, in rough shape.
I thought he was a goner for sure. But, to be a good (albeit very surprised) Mommy, I got the fish net and scooped him up and plopped him back in his bowl. And started warning his owner of his likely approaching death.
He made it all afternoon and into the evening, though I was pretty sure he wouldn't fully recover. We left for a walk and when we returned he'd finally given up on recovery. Joshua found him and was quite stoic, saying "he's got one of his wings (fins) up in the air, I think he's dead" Lydia is confused: she keeps saying Michael. Potty. Flush. Gone. and going in there to see if he's come back. Joshua asked to hold him before his "flushing ceremony." This grossed Mommy out a little, but it's his fish and he hasn't been able to touch for over a year, so we (well James, actually...thanks honey!) wrapped him in plastic wrap and Joshua said his good-byes.
It's only a fish, but it's really our kids first personal experience with death. Joshua got teary after he was gone and wanted answers about where Michael was now and if we'd see him again. How do you re-assure a 3-year-old about death while being honest but not scaring them? We held him and talked about what a good pet Michael had been. He liked the idea of Michael going down the pipes to the sewage plant and eventually "becoming dirt." It is the life cycle, but it's never easy.
He's now looking forward to the next fish, which he's already told us will be blue and named Pipp. Ah, resiliency, it's how we get through life with a pre-schooler--everything is dramatic, but at least he recovers quickly.
Good-bye, Michael, you will be missed as much as any fish can...!