I'm in mourning. My beautiful beta fish, affectionately named Bait, died. It was a slow death; painful to watch. He listed to one side on the bottom of his aquarium one evening. Several loud taps on the the walls didn't stir him. I was concerned but hoped he'd be back to his old self in the morning. I awoke to find him completely flat on his side, gasping slowly. Gills flapping out, holding open, then shaking closed. Poor Bait. I tried to make eye contact, let him know I was there. He just stared vacantly forward. I felt horrible going off to work, leaving him to struggle alone on the black gravel.
This went on for two more days. I debated about euthanizing him, just flushing him away and out of his misery. I couldn't do it. I let nature take its course. Upon returning from dinner (a fish dinner, no less), I found him still. He was dead.
What happened next is a bit concerning. I was unable to fish him out and flush him away. I kept his body there in the aquarium for two days. I knew it was wrong, a bit disturbing, even disrespectful to little Bait. But, I missed him and I just couldn't say goodbye. I started wondering about those sick souls you hear about on the news who keep the dead bodies of loved ones they've murdered in the house for weeks. Is this how it starts, I wondered? Did they keep their dead fish around for days? No. Snap out of it. I did not murder Bait. Big difference, as I see it.
One thing I did realize is that this is the first pet death I've experienced since leaving home. My Mom, saint that she is, always took care of our animals when they got sick and died. Dogs, hamsters, birds. You name it, Mom came through. She was the one strong enough to do what was best when the rest of us couldn't face it. So, I reminded myself I'm a grown-up now and fished Bait out, brought him to the toilet and flushed him down. Then I went to Petco and got another. Life goes on.