At some point in each of our lives, we have all uttered the adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, last week this lesson hit in a way I would have never expected.
It involved a fish…and this is its tale.
I was at the pool with our youngest son and a friend when a call through on my cell. It was an out of county call–a number that I didn’t recognize–so I let it go. Probably a telemarketer, anyway. I continued with what I was doing, neglecting to check if the caller had left a message. About 30 minutes later, I received a text from my daughter, who was back at home with her friends in the neighborhood. Our 14-year old Henry had run home from the neighborhood pond up the street, where he had been fishing with a buddy. Our catch-and-release fisherman had caught a 14″ bass, but the barb of the hook was lodged deep within its throat. Usually Henry has no problems retrieving the hook. But after minutes of struggling to free the fish with no success, Henry panicked.
Henry was distraught because he knew he had probably killed the fish.
It was then that I noticed a voicemail–from the call I had received 30 minutes prior. It had been Henry, calling from his buddy’s phone. He had been calling about the fish, begging for help. I tried to get in touch with Mark, but he wasn’t answering. That’s because Mark had left his (nearby) office and had driven to the pond to help Henry save the fish.
So… this is what happens when we teach our children compassion for all living creatures. This is what happens when a child has such a sensitive and empathetic heart toward nature. You answer your child’s tearful plea — to come rescue a fish with a hook in its throat, to end its suffering. But sometimes it’s just too late. I got in touch with Henry’s friend, and he let me know that, yes, they got the hook out, but that the fish had died. I didn’t realize Mark had actually been at the pond with Henry until I sent the text to let him know the fish was dead.
(Ironically, Mark had already begun preparations earlier in the day to grill salmon for dinner. I thought he was joking about adding bass to our menu.)
So there at the neighborhood pond up the street, Henry and his Dad together agreed that the only thing left to do was, through its death,
give that fish’s life purpose.
Henry told me that as he was walking home, holding the fish in his bare hands, he passed some of our neighbors. The son gave him a funny look, like ‘what are you doing walking down the street holding a dead fish?’. (Oh, child, you don’t know Henry…) So I guess when life gives you bass, you bring it home for dinner. And sure enough, this was what was in our garage when I got home that evening:
And may I tell you, that this Stella-battered bass was one of the most delicious fish we have ever eaten? One thing we do know: it was about as fresh as you can get. ‘Pond to table’ at its finest, with a lesson to accompany it:
Often, things don’t go as planned. And in those moments, you just have to look for the beauty in the way things turned out, instead. I promise that when you look hard enough, you will find a sliver of goodness. In this case, it happened to come from a bass. And for our family, this particular fish tale is a story that will not soon be forgotten…
“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”
~ L.R. Knost, Two Thousand Kisses a Day
“Animal lovers are a special breed of humans, generous of spirit,
full of empathy, perhaps a little prone to sentimentality,
and with hearts as big as a cloudless sky.”
~ John Grogran, Marley & Me