Today, one of our beloved pets has departed this earth for a better place. Gilbert Finley a.k.a. "Gil" has been with us for over 1 year. In his short stint in our family, he has endured many...adventures...and seen more than most fish do in a lifetime. Gil came into our family from a pet shop. Our Boys picked him from hundreds of fish contenders and rescued him from a life of monotony. He was brought into our home and placed in a brightly colored fish bowl complete with his own volcano. We taught him many tricks *cough* for a fish, and he brought us hours of enjoyment. Serene living, plenty of food and children peering into his home marked Gils's days. He was a very happy fish. However, as fate would have it, this happiness came to a screeching halt one evening in September 2012. My dear friend Noelle was visiting us from Georgia and to celebrate, we had some of our precious Colorado friends over for dinner. They have 4 children, whom we love dearly. After dinner, all the adults were sitting on our front porch talking and having a grand ole time. The sun had set and the evening coolness was a welcome blessing. Children's laughter wafted out from the house as we enjoyed the relative quiet of the porch swing. The peaceful night was suddenly shattered by the violent opening of the front door, followed by hysterical crying and intelligible words from our 4 year old. It -sounded- like he was saying that Gil was in the basement. "No. Sweet boy. Gil lives in his bowl. In the kitchen! He's fine" I cooly replied. Silly kids. Hysteria continues. He's CERTAIN that Gil is in the basement, and is being eaten by one of our friends kids. (My brain is not able to process this information) Now this sad child is joined by two of his older brothers, both crying just as hard and both attesting to the accuracy of the story. The adults exchange looks......still without comprehension.......while simultaneously jumping up and racing inside. At this point, things become hazy. I'm attempting to bring 4 of my children from the brink of nervous breakdowns while the other adults are gathering info, assessing the damage and piecing together this horrid tale. Tale. Tail. Gil's tail is......gone. Gil is in his tank, as I originally assured my children, except something is amiss. His fins and tail, to be exact. He is floating upside down (for you non-fish owners, this is NOT a good sign) and motionless. Children are crying over his tank, tears spilling into the calm water. *****at this point in the story, I must rely on future information from those involved since I am still in another room calming hysterical children***** My dearest Noelle is holding children, watching Gil and wondering what is going on. Obviously something traumatic has happened to our fish and he is expired (or in the process of expiring). She is taking in the scene around her and thinking she MUST do something. So my sweet Noelle begins to pray for our Fish. "Dear Lord, PLEASE heal this fish! These kids LOVE their fish....it's their dog (because their mom won't allow them to have an actual dog so they got a fish instead) and they are devastated that the fish is dead." The fish is still not moving. Noelle decides that more effective measures must be taken and thinks of the verse in the Bible that says to lay hands on the sick while praying for their healing. Noelle loves us. She loves our kids. And because of this love, the reaches her tiny finger into the fish bowl.....and touches our dead Gil. As she does, she repeats her urgent prayer, essentially begging The Lord to heal our fish. Immediately, Gilbert moves. Not only is he moving, but he is SWIMMING around the tank! Who needs fins and a tail?! He doesn't! Being lopsided and fully supported by his minute front fins, Gilbert Finley has returned to his jovial self. My oldest sons witness this amazing transformation and are yelling throughout the house, "Gil is fine! He's not dead!!!!" To which I was very thankful as my younger sons were still beside themselves with anguish. Over the next while, we gained the full story of Gilbert's adventures. Our sweet little friend saw Gil swimming around in his colorful tank and it was just too much for him. He needed to -hold- the beautiful fish. So, he did as anyone who wanted to catch a fish would do.....he stuck his little boy fingers into the tank and caught the fish! As no one was around to share in his excitement, he went down to the basement, fish in hand, to show off his treasure. At this point, headed for the stairs, the thought of 'sushi' crossed his mind and he tasted the goods. Ugh. Not at all like the resturant stuff. Off to the basement! He was walking down the stairs, holding Gil over his open mouth when he encountered our 8 year old son...and tossed the fish to him to catch. It's a game! And Presley didn't disappoint....he caught "it." Not knowing what "it" was, he looked into his hands and screamed in horror as he realized his prize was none other than his beloved Gil. Pres reacted as anyone would....he threw Gil, again, through the air. (Simultaneously the other horrified kids begin the hysterical crying described above). Thankfully, Gilbert landed on a soft blanket and was retrieved by Tarin, our quick thinking 11 year old son. Tarin scooped him up, ran pell-mell up the basement stairs and deposited him back into the fishbowl, where he floated to the top, upside down, and was healed by Noelle. The next day, our friends are on our porch once again, but this time they carried a NEW fish with them as they were certain our fish would be dead. However, Gilbert had survived the night and was still lopsidedly swimming through his volcano. The NEW fish would later be named, "No Name" as our Boys could not think of a fitting name for him. As the days progressed, Gil became far more lethargic. (Yes. Fish can be lethargic) He seemed to be in pain. Swimming was difficult. He rarely ate a thing. A family meeting was called with the discussion entitled, "Should we put Gil out of his misery." Pros and cons were presented and votes were cast. The consensus was that YES, we should take the necessary steps to alleviate the pain that Gil was in. Now came the hard part....deciding HOW. We had many ideas given by the Boys. (Pease keep something in mind...they are BOYS) - toilet (decided that this would be too yucky and smelly for him) - hammer/mallet (Ew.) - fire (not quick enough) - blender (yes, blender) Eventually, after shooting (theres another one...shooting him) down every suggestion, we agreed that we should release him into the wild from whence he came. There is a beautiful stream down the road from us and we would take him there and set him free. Over the course of the next few days, we were very busy. The Great Release kept being postponed in favor of other activities (that were far less depressing). We noticed, however, that Gilbert seemed to be getting better! He was swimming happily lopsided once again as well eating. His health was obviously improving, thus negating the need to put him out of his misery. So, the decision was made-we would KEEP Gil and allow him to continue lazily swimming his days away. We now have two fish......one missing the fish essentials of a tail and fins (but happy once again) and one with out a name. This bliss continued for many more months, until a few weeks ago. Gilbert once again became lethargic and stopped eating. He stopped his lopsided swimming and no longer performed his amazing tricks. We knew he would not last much longer, and in one family meeting we talked about how we loved him and how he had enriched our lives. We were ready to set him free. And today, we say goodbye to Gilbert Finley. He survived adventures quite out of the ordinary for any fish, and we are happy to know he is is now swimming, straight and strong, through that great fish tank in the sky. We will miss you, Gil. Thankfully we still have No Name.