It became very clear this week — I am definitely not the person to ask for assisted-suicide advice.
I’m talking about Gilligan, the-best-betta-fish-in-the-world. Whom I sincerely hope is dead by the time I get home today.
I know, I know. I’ve predicted Gilligan’s demise at least five times prior to this. And really thought he was a goner, what with the slow swimming, no appetite, slimy appearance. His little fishy mouth set at “O” and his tail staying still.
Every single time, though, my blue boy fought death off. Like some mythical warrior fish, Gilligan returned to his vibrant self in his own timing.
When I bought him nearly three and half years ago, Gilligan was tasked with helping me feel less sad after the death of my husband. The fishie lived on my desk at work and entertained everyone by his willingness to leap for food and fingers.
I eventually moved him home to the kitchen counter, where my family enjoyed the boy’s swishing. Watching him mow through his breakfast (well, only mean, actually) elicited plenty of commentary.
Unfortunately, we’re commenting on other Gilligan activities for the past few weeks. “Is he still moving,” Camo Man asks, watching the bowl.
“Poor Gilligan,” my girls murmur, watching the Blue One feebly flick a fin.
He really is at the very end, and this time I MEAN IT. His tail is half what it once was and his fins clump together like wet feathers. His body has been at a 45-degree bend for a week, his little head staying at the top of the water.
Yet every time I dropped in food pellets, he roused himself and flapped awkwardly over to it, voraciously downing his meal. Even if it took four times longer than it used to.
Some people in my house have advocated for flushing the betta to end his misery or putting chlorinated water in his bowl for instant poisoning. I am not going to name names. And I couldn’t do it, in any case.
No way was I going to deny Gilligan his right to fight to the death. Not with that spirit of survival.
The boy hasn’t eaten for three days now. Not even his regular water change perked him up this time. This morning he was lifeless … until I looked very closely and could see his gills just ba-a-a-arely moving.
It’s about to kill me, this slow swimming toward death. But I so admire Gilligan. He’s not very worried about quality of life, it seems, just living it to the last breath. I hope I can be that brave when my moment comes.
Because I never get tired of this, here you go: