This is a koi living in the Italian garden pools of the Biltmore Estate, still filtered with the technology originally developed for them in 1895. The koi have been there a long time, and at least one is around 50 years old. I posted this photo to show the elegant grace of these beautiful fish, but also as a stand in for one of my first childhood pets. This koi is more flashy than Splashy. He was a common goldfish, but to me there was nothing ordinary about him. I was captivated by his orange scales flashing in the sun, colored like the glow of sunset.
I brought him to Lake Placid in upstate NY for the summer, where my mom played in the sinfonietta. He survived the sloshing trip in his bowl, and seemed largely content. But as the weeks went by my sister and I decided he seemed lonely, and caught a few minnows from the lake to be his friends. Within days he was very sick, undoubtedly not immune to the germs they carried, and in spite of fish medicines and enticing fish treats I watched him take his last fish swish on a sunny summer afternoon.
Some dates are more important than others. Our calendars are dotted with our own special code of days. Most of us announce the happy days- birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries. But each year there are days we dread, with private significance. Splashy died on August 2. For months after, all I wrote in my diary was “I love Splashy.” Perhaps it is the force of time, but though I have forgotten many other sad anniversaries, every year on this day I think of him, with mixed emotions. It will always be sad remembering the pain of losing a pet, tinged with guilt for causing it even if I had good intentions. But as I remember the succession of commemorations, I am inspired by how long love can last, even across species. I knew him less than a year, but the bond with him has nurtured and inspired my love for countless other species all around the world. So once again, all these years later, I write the only words I could put to paper for so long- I love Splashy. Happy Anniversary to lasting love for all our furred, feathered and finned friends.