Photo by Jill
Bubba entered our lives on New Year’s Eve, after surviving a long car ride and hours spent in a small but lovely lavatory before the big reveal.
Despite his silence, Bubba the goldfish quickly became part of our lives. We get a kick out of catching him sleeping when we arrive at night. We creep into the room, not wanting to wake him because there are few things funnier than watching a goldfish sleep.
Especially one that’s hyper the rest of the time.
But Bubba hardly ever lets us watch him sleep. He almost always immediately wakes up when we walk into the room, as if he senses our presence, as if he wants us to know that he knows we’re there.
Bubba likes playing with the pebbles in his bowl, picking them up with his crazy fish lips and dropping them again. Late at night, as we drift off to sleep, we hear the clink-clink-clink of the pebbles dropping from his mouth. It’s almost as if he’s telling us, “Go sleep, humans. I’m just here.”
And when we wake up, Bubba really is just there, swimming crazily or impatiently waiting for his fish flakes.
One day, Jill noticed Bubba swimming strangely. He couldn’t swim all the way down. He’d struggle to go down but he kept floating back up. He also started swimming upside down.
We panicked and Googled like mad. His symptoms matched swim bladder disease, which is caused by feeding the goldfish dry food, food impactions and virus attacks and affects a fish’s equilibrium. Weirdly, a lot of people recommended feeding the sick goldfish with a pea or two.
Jill did just that and soon, like magic, Bubba was back to his normal self.
Despite a change in his diet, Bubba’s swim bladder disease reoccurred a couple of times but peas always did the trick.
We arrived after being away for a couple of days and saw that Bubba was upside down again. But this time, he was no longer swimming.
“Bubba’s dead!” Jill said. She tapped the glass, trying to wake him up. “Bubba! Bubba!”
But he was really gone.
Manang Amy said he was still alive just hours before – she was still able to feed him one last pea.
“Let’s bury him,” I said. I didn’t want to see Bubba flushed down the toilet.
Last night, we buried him – Jill, Manang Amy and I, right beside the mango tree Jill planted when she was a kid.
Rest in peace, Bubba. I still can’t bear to write about you in the past tense. It’s only now that I’ve accepted that your death wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, it’s only now that the tears finally came.
It’s odd looking at the empty spot where your bowl was. It’s odd sleeping without hearing your gentle clink-clink-clink.
We will get another Bubba but we won’t forget you.