My grandkids are a six-year-old girl and a four year-old boy. They live a little over an hour away. About once a month they get to spend the weekend at Grams and Pop’s house. There is usually a whirlwind of activity as the girl is very dramatic and the boy is perpetual motion.
Recently, my granddaughter has discovered that we as humans have a limited time on this earth. That has made her very sensitive to the subject of death. I tried to talk to her about the lives of the Saints and how they are in Heaven. She covered her ears and wanted none of it.
Imagine my horror when Saturday, my daughter arrives with the grandkids who are proudly showing off two goldfish they have won at the local fair. My daughter whispers to me that we will just put the fish in a tank of water and they “will probably die anyway”! So began our weekend with the grandkids.
My granddaughter named her fish Starlight. I tell her that is a beautiful name for a beautiful fish! Five hours later all of us are watching Starlight struggle and then the poor thing loses her life. I watched my granddaughter grab the little fish net and ask her mother to fish out Starlight so that she could flush her down the toilet. I thought she was acting very brave and that she must not have the same sensitivity with death of an animal or fish as with a human.
Later on she brings a picture that she has drawn. I look down at her art tablet and see a gold fish floating in a toilet! I could not contain my laughter. It was such a surprise! Well, immediately my granddaughter began bawling and ran to the back of the house. Oh no! I looked at my daughter and said, “time for a fish prayer service”.
The four of us (myself, my daughter and two grandkids) gathered around a Crucifix. My granddaughter said we should say a “Hail Mary”. My grandson reminded everyone to make the Sign of the Cross. He prayed for God to Bless him, his sister, and his whole family. We all said the Hail Mary prayer. Then my granddaughter picked out several prayers from a prayer book, which I read while she held the book. My daughter said some nice words about Starlight. We ended with the Guardian Angel prayer. It was quit lovely. My granddaughter and I actually had a talk about dying. I was able to share with her that people never die. Our bodies do die; but we have a soul that lives forever thanks to Jesus.
All of this reminded me that Jesus often taught using fish. Matthew 14:17 “All we have are five loaves and two fish, they replied. ..then He took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. Everyone ate and had enough. Then the disciples took up twelve baskets full of what was left over. The number of men who ate was about five thousand, not counting the women and children.”
Mark 1:17 “Jesus said to them, Come with Me, and I will teach you to catch men. At once they left their nets and went with Him.”
God works in mysterious ways. A fish named Starlight won at a local fair has helped my granddaughter get over her super sensitivity to death and all topics related to death. Thank you God!
In case you are wondering…the boy’s fish made it through the weekend. Raphael is swimming safe and sound back at my daughter’s home. When it is Raphael’s time to go, we know exactly how to handle it!