From Across The Sea

I have had to say goodbye to another of my beloved goldfish and it has hit me really hard. My lovely, gorgeous, little water sprite, Seb. I have had her for three and a half years and she has given me joy every single day. An elegant, pretty fish, she enjoyed music, eating aquatic plants and chatting (yes, fish do come up and chat to you. They are quite interactive…)


Seb had an illness that affected her gills and the amount of oxygen in her system. She showed initial symptoms of the disease three months ago and I treated her, even hand-feeding her for ten days. At that stage I thought she wasn’t going to make it but she made a complete recovery. However, last Thursday evening she began having difficulty breathing again so I gave her more medicine. She really didn’t seem too bad but by Friday afternoon she was gone. Just like that.

She looked at me with that cute little face she had and I could have sworn she smiled – and then she was gone. It’s hard to say goodbye to the little creatures in our care because they become such a significant part of our lives. I feel a connection with a lot of animals and have had a lot of animals which I still think about to this day. I think animals do make us better people. I think they get what life really is about and we should love them and respect them always.

Another thing that is hard when a pet passes away is the sense of responsibility we feel. We are the higher species, we call the shots, so it is hard not to blame ourselves when a little one in our care dies.

My Aunt Jo used to have an aviary on her patio. It was the most beautiful thing, hand carved wood made by a local artisan. It had lots of little perches and nesting boxes. She kept finches, birds which I often think are one step away from being fairy folk with their sweet little songs and movement fast as sunbeams.

Aunt Jo lives near bushland and there had been a lot of trouble with people dumping unwanted cats deep amongst the trees and gullies. Those cats that survived had no choice but to live completely on their wits. They became feral.

One night they got into the aviary. Somehow they managed to open the little door through which my aunt fed the birds. They killed every one. Fifteen sweet little fairy birds. Aunt Jo wakened in the middle of the night to the finches calling out in terror. She still weeps at the horror of it.

The sense of guilt and responsibility she felt as a result of losing the finches was overwhelming. I’ll never forget how low she was. For the past few days I have been feeling that way myself. Feeling sad, feeling guilty, missing my little one, wanting her back.

And then something happened.

I received this in the mail.


This is a fish finger puppet sent to me all the way from California by Melissa who has the wonderful blog Poet With A Day Job. She sent it to cheer me up after I lost my other little guy, Squirt, and to show her support for the work I did in preventing the school giving away goldfish as prizes at the fair.

I received it on a day when I was feeling so sad. It just cheered me up so much. We have decided to call her Seb in honour of our dear little friend.

There are days when the melancholy hits and it just won’t leave you.Β  And then from far across the sea, someone who is a real person living in this world like the rest of us, acts like a real angel and offers a balm to ease the pain.

It is incredible how one act of kindness can link, like fingers touching, to an act of grief and lessen its hold so that the sorrowful ones can breath again.

Thank you my dear friend, Melissa. I will treasure my little fishie……

26 thoughts on “From Across The Sea

  1. That is absolutely beautiful, both the story and especially the writing. The descriptions of the fishyfish and the birds were gorgeous and the emotion is careful and controlled but real. You have what in the olden days was described as a beautifully balanced prose style. And you are obviously a wonderful person so it is no surprise you have wonderful friends too.


  2. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Even though in our brains we know this initial pain won’t last forever, our hearts a pretty convinced that it will never end. I wish everyone would be so kind and loving to our animal friends, then perhaps tragedies like the one that befell Aunt Jo would never happen. Imagine what a great place this would be if everyone treated it with such love and care.

    You have such a good heart, Selma, and that’s why your writing is so wonderful.

    Thank you, Melissa, for cheering up our friend. Looks like you and the Universe worked together to make things happen right on time for our dear friend.


  3. Selma, your grief is palpable, meaning you loved your Seb very much. I am sorry for your loss, but how wonderful you were able to treat her with such great care.

    I feel for you…..


  4. I’m sorry you lost your fishy friend. That was very kind of Melissa to send you that cute finger puppet, not just for your loss, but for all the goldfish you saved from that fair.

    Take care, Selma.


  5. I’m so sorry about your pet fish Selma. 😦

    So hard to say goodbye to any pets, isn’t it? Every time I’ve had a cat pass on, I died a little inside too.

    What a thoughtful gift to arrive though, in your time of despair.

    Big hug, G


  6. I could go on and on about his one. Let me just say that, as a friend of mine said, animals are people too. Three years isn’t a bad score for a goldfish. What feels like hell for me is when they die within a few days of bringing them home, and then you get another and the same thing happens. That was when my dear wife was first in charge of the goldfish bowl. She’s become a much better fish parent now and would agree with you entirely that they can communicate with you and even become your friend. I haven’t had any question about that since I was a teenager with a fish tank. I still dream about the fish I had back then.

    The problem with the animals we own is that we have much longer lifespans then they do, we fall in love with them and then must watch them die. Love hurts.


  7. Selma such a beautiful post – I totally agree “I think animals do make us better people.” It is true, I felt it every day while I worked at the farm, and still miss that milking goat I had made such a bond with. Of course, I feel it too with my cat – she makes me gentler, softer, calmer, and more attentive.

    I am glad Seb arrived safely and has cheered you so! You are so welcome!


  8. My heart went Awwwwwwww, poor little fishy, and I can only imagine how sad you must feel. I’m sure Seb knew how much you cared. And Melissa is so sweet to have sent you that cute little fishy and that it arrived on the day you needed it most. It is amazing the power of animals and how much they affect us. I can’t imagine life without Mica, she is sure helping me a lot now. Don’t feel guilty from the sounds of it you did everything you could. I know it is easy to say…


  9. Dear Selma,

    I’m so sad for you. My daughter, “Sapphire” has had fish as pets for several years because of allergies to dogs and cats. All of her fish were named, treated as pets by all of us, and oh, I want to hug you. It’s hard losing ANY pet.

    I’m warmed by Melissa’s thoughtfulness! That finger puppet is so cute! How timely that it arrived to you in your time of need. As I read of more and more bloggers connecting, it’s beautiful how friendship spans the globe or “crosses the sea.”
    Although that puppet is adorable, I know your heart aches.



  10. For sure animals lead us to a greater truth. It is clear in their eyes how much wisdom they posses and so very true what important members of the family they are. This is such a beautiful post, such honest emotion paired with your beautiful writing. And what a wonderful gift from Melissa!

    My your heart heal well, your grief become lighter, and may you find joy in your memories soon.


  11. >>a lot of trouble with people dumping unwanted cats deep amongst the trees and gullies. <<

    In Australia, of all places!! Don’t people ever learn??

    I shall just say two words … rabbits and foxes.


  12. What a deeply moving story…

    Animals are the angels whom we pass by every day…

    We think them ‘less than’ us…when truly they are so connected to the earth, to spirit, to the unseen…

    I know that she is with you now. Her spirit watching over you with the same care and soft love you showed her during those last days.

    Thank you for your tender heart and your compassion,

    The world needs lovers like you,

    It is the only way that change will come,

    God bless you during this difficult time, Maithri


  13. I know what you mean – I still cry over my dog Maggie who died of par voe – it happened because no one had told us about it – we had given her all the shots we knew to give and it just wasn’t enough, and I still remember her dying the night we brought her home from the vet, knowing she just wasn’t going to make it. It was terrible, and I felt horrible because it could have been prevented. 😦

    I hope you feel better soon, and you have bright blue skies and warm hugs to cheer you. πŸ™‚


    1. TEXASBLU – I feel so sad hearing about Maggie. It wasn’t your fault, hon. There are so many things to consider with pets. I know how you must have felt, however; it is heartbreaking. I am starting to feel better. Thank you!


  14. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know it’s hard. Isn’t it great to be blessed with friends/ I’m so glad Melissa lightened your heart!


  15. the loss of any pet,,, even one you cant cuddle up with is hard… i haven’t the gumption of late to maintain a tank,,, but i do love my dogs… the older one,, ky is 11 and has begun to have trouble controlling her bowels,, getting in and out of the car,, getting up and down the three steps into the house,,fear of walking on linoleum…… my heart breaks it is like having your child grow old right before your eyes….

    love the finger fishy… bet (s)he will never let you down,,, and you can cuddle up with it too!!!!!!


  16. I’ve been away, Selma, and have only just heard the sad news. My thoughts are with you.

    I know you may be feeling a little delicate at the moment, but I find it best to face things and clear the air, and besides, if a friend won’t tell you then who will…

    It’s a fish FINGER PUPPET…!!! You stick your finger up its… its… its NETHER REGION…!!! You waggle it around in the AIR…!!! It’s made of WOOL…!!! It looks like a WEINER with WINGS…!!!

    Oh Selma, please, please rush out and get yourself a real fish and then we can all relax and stop worrying about your mental health.

    Sheesh… I’m away five minutes and you go to pot.


  17. PAUL – I take everything you’ve said as a great compliment. Thank you so much. I do apologise for the late reply – I’ve had issues. Broadband issues. I thought the whole thing had died but it seems to have resurrected itself. My provider told me it must be a problem at my end because “it couldn’t possibly be a problem at our end, madam.” Odd then that everyone’s broadband in the street crashed at the same time after the provider had been working on the lines. Modern technology, eh?

    KAREN – I think we feel so bad because we feel so responsible. It’s hard. I know you’ve just lost your poor furry beast. I told Nick and he cried. He takes the loss of an animal to heart. Melissa cheered me up so much with that little fish. She really is amazing!

    LURAGANO – I’m feeling a little better now. It is always hard to say goodbye, however. It’s funny, music always helps me. I have been playing that song ‘Seasons of Love’ from Rent on the piano. It really does lift your spirits.

    LINDA – thanks so much, hon. I am feeling a lot better now.

    GERALDINE – you do die inside a little, don’t you? Our pets become such a part of our lives. It’s the not seeing them where they used to be that is the hardest thing for me. However, it is nice to remember….

    RICHARD – I picked you as a guy who likes fish. You have that vibe. It’s true – we do live longer and we do see them pass away. It does hurt. What I do realise though, after writing this, is how many people feel the same way about animals. It’s really encouraging!

    PWADJ – you are an angel. Pure and simple. THANK YOU. XXXXX
    When my sister lived in Alaska she had a goat called Daisy. What a character she was. Saying goodbye to her was so hard. I only met her once but instantly I fell in love. Who would’ve thought goats could be so cute? I think if all of us spent more time with domesticated animals there would be less cruelty on farms and such. Maybe one day….

    TBALL – I love that little Mica of yours. She is adorable. I don’t feel as guilty as I did. Unfortunately, pets do pass away. Goldfish are difficult because the water chemistry has to be so accurate so if there is any variation at all in the local supply it can result in problems. Give Mica a hug for me!

    NAT – she did have a good run. I did have a fish when I was a kid though that lived for 15 years. Slightly freakish, I suspect. The finger puppet is cute.

    GEL – thanks so much for your kindness. It is nice when bloggers connect. It’s so nice to meet like-minded people from afar. I hope your daughter has many enjoyable years ahead with her fish.

    TR – you are lovely. Thanks, my friend!

    KAYT – even in your comments you are poetic. I wish I had your turn of phrase, I really do. Thank you so much!

    TRAVELRAT – you got it in one. And cane toads. Yikes!

    MAITHRI – you are such a sweet person to say that. How lovely you are. Thank you!

    MELEAH – I am in love with your Santa hat. Too cute. I love it when there is that connection over the internet too. It makes the world seem a better place somehow.

    DESPERATEWRITER – sometimes grief and joy can combine. It’s odd, but it happens. Thank goodness for acts of thoughtfulness. Melissa really cheered me up.

    PAISLEY – I am so sorry to hear about your dog. I know how hard it is. All of a sudden it just becomes apparent that they are older. Please give Ky a hug and a kiss for me.

    BEAR – you LIE! That ain’t no finger puppet. I’ve seen it move (well, admittedly my son was holding it, but still – IT MOVED!!!!) You crack me up!!!!! πŸ˜†


  18. I am so sorry about your little friend Selma but I bet it felt like the best loved fish in the whole world. Losing a pet is one of life’s tragedies that really doesn’t get acknowledged enough especially from the non animal loving fraternity. It is a REAL loss.

    Good on ya Melissa for cheering our little mate up. Your blood’s worth bottling as we Aussies like to say.


  19. Hi Selma. Gee, I am SO sorry for your loss. I bet you’ll dream of her–of Seb. I still dream of my beautiful Australian Shepherd, “Frisco”, who passed away last Jan. 15th.
    Special notes of sympathy to the commenters who posted they’ve lost pets, and to Paisley, I’m sorry your doggie is hurting–my Golden Retreiver,”Louie”(he’s 11 years old too) is on “Rimadyl” for moderate hip-dysplasia/arthritis, and also Glucosamine-Chondrontin. Did not know if you knew of these two items, perhaps they will help him, too.

    Melissa, that “Poet With A Day Job” makes this world a much sweeter, brighter place. As do you, Selma.


  20. DAOINE – can you believe the timing? It has kind of freaked me out. I think many of us are linked in a metaphysical sense and don’t even realise it.

    ROSHAN – people always say that to me, but I can’t help but get attached to animals. I do like to care for my little guys. They are so cute!

    ROMANY – I know. The non-pet people always go – it was just a dog or a cat or a fish, get over it. I think they’re missing out on the joy of loving an animal. Melissa’s blood is definitely worth bottling. I am still blown away by her thoughtfulness.

    LISA – I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Frisco. It is always so hard. And poor Louie. I had a Golden Retriever too. Henry. They are the best dogs. He lived till he was nearly 16. Arthritis got him too. I think the breed is more susceptible. It broke my heart to see him fail.

    You make the world a brighter, better place too. Always.


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