Seeing a dead body surely would have startled anyone, however, seeing her lifeless was all the more disturbing when I knew I was the cause of her state. Although Lolly was only a goldfish who had already outlived her life expectancy by several months, to a seven year old like myself at the time, the death of a beloved pet is a huge ordeal. However, the thought of murdering a beloved pet is an even bigger one.
The day before her death was the only day I had ever forgotten to feed her, and the coincidence was too much for me to handle. Today, I’m aware that my assumption was illogical and Lolly died because of her old age, but at seven years old my naivety made me prone to jump to conclusions. I couldn’t have killed her, I simply couldn’t have, I told myself. I vowed never to think about Lolly or her death again, and for the next couple days whenever my thoughts wandered in her direction I quickly yanked them back. However, the more energy I put into dismissing her death, the more terrified I became. At school, it got to the the point where I couldn’t eat Goldfish crackers, I couldn’t sit on anything orange, and I couldn’t even eat the lollipop my friend had given me. Finally, I just let it all out and burst into tears, and allowed myself to remember Lolly’s death. Slowly, the more I thought about it, the more the pain in my heart began to fade away.
Although the loss of a fish cannot be compared the loss of a human loved one, Lolly’s death taught me that the harder I try to forget something, the more I remember it. Once I finally did remember and allowed myself to relive the pain of the past, only then could I begin to forget.
I was faced with a similar dilemma several years later when I accidently spilled water on my friend’s painting during art class. I felt terribly guilty, and for the next week I avoided her every chance I had. However, every time I saw her face, the guilt only became stronger. Finally, I gave her a huge apology for both destroying her painting and ignoring her. After I did so, I realized that it was never my friend I was avoiding, but I was trying to escape my own guilt by pretending it didn’t exist. Similar to what Lolly’s death taught me, this experience showed me that I couldn’t run away from my problems. I had to embrace the past if I wanted to feel alright again, much like how I felt after I apologized to my friend.
Today, I can think about Lolly’s death or the incident in art class without feeling like I am being kicked in the stomach. Since I took the time to remember and accept these events as part of the past, they remain nothing more than memories.