Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A fish out of water

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[The victim of our murderous crime]

The past several weeks have seen the birth of a new obsession for my boys: Fishing.

They saved their own money and bought themselves fishing poles. They have researched gear and equipment ad nauseum. And when the idea to fish in our friends' backyard pond came up, I was not the least bit surprised. They even succeeded in getting the friend's daughter in on the project.

The planned Saturday finally arrived, and they found themselves with poles in the water as the sun arose. Within a few hours, they were back at my door, a huge catfish in hand. Excitedly, they talked over each other, sharing the story of how Chase had reeled the giant beast in. I looked down at the poor creature and noticed that he was still breathing. Noting wistfully that the Husband was out on an errand, I told them that they needed to knock it out so that it wouldn't suffer.

First, they smacked the fish against a tree. Still breathing. Then they tried the sidewalk. Still breathing. Even beating it over the head with a rock -- STILL BREATHING.

And the blood. OH MY HEAVENS, THE BLOOD.

This thing was dripping blood everywhere from what should have been its fatal head wound. Blow after blow, they tried to put the poor fish out of its misery.

and still it breathed.

It was Jaws, only in our backyard, and without the help and skills of Richard Dreyfuss.

I looked up to see tears forming in Chase's eyes, and knew that this was breaking his heart. Taking a deep breath, I swallowed the bile in my mouth, went against every fiber of my being, and offered to help them gut the fish. I knew exactly what was going on in his head and how this was hurting him - almost more than it was hurting the stupid fish. I also knew that if we didn't finish this to completion, he might not recover enough to ever eat meat again.

With my good kitchen knife, and no idea whatsoever what I was doing, I went to work.

And let me tell you, it was awful. This thing had a giant backbone that was nearly impossible to saw through. There was blood and guts all over my hands. You know that scene from Goodfellas where they are chopping the guy up using Joe Pesci's mom's kitchen knife? Sort of like that. Only not. Because we didn't actually kill anybody. But it was a bloody, stinky, traumatic mess.

And I'm pretty sure I might not ever be able to eat meat again.

I quickly extracted enough meat from the fish to make a meal and took it inside to cook. Finding the fattiest, deep fried recipe that I could, we cooked that baby up. It had to be delicious to help poor Chase forget the murder he had just committed.

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And it was.

Though later that night, walking past the boys' room, I found Chase curled up and weeping in his bed. I put my arms around him, and his body wracked with aching sobs as he said he could not get the image out of his mind. His blue eyes looked into mine, pleading with me to help him understand how he could be so cruel. He vowed never to hurt anything ever again. In fact, he said he was not going to join the military because he didn't think he could kill a person.

I hugged him tight, fighting back my own tears, and I told him that he has just learned a skill which will enable him to someday feed his family, should the need arise. I told him that heavenly father created the animals for us to eat, and that he had done nothing wrong. I pleaded with him to forgive himself and told him over and over that he is not a bad person.

I think he believed me.

Though it will probably be a long time before either of us can eat fish again.

17 comments:

Andy Johnson said...

Looks like you learned a skill that someday could feed your family. Enjoy picking the blood out of your french manicure.

And tell Chase that we love him, and he did no wrong.

Liz said...

Oh, Chase! Love that boy.

Did I tell you that Creed found a Frog in D.C.?

Tristan said...

Oh what a tender hearted guy!! What a sweet boy you have there!

Michelle said...

Sniff. Poor boy; poor you.

Off to eat tofu.

Lisa-Marie said...

Four things:

You are an amazing mom.

Chase is so sweet. See number 1.

You can cook anything.

I like the new look.

jen@odbt said...

You are mom of the year. It amazes me what mothers can do - gut a fish and provide a life lesson.

Jeanelle said...

Maybe he could meet up with some of those guys who do that catch and release thing so then you never have to kill the fish but you still get the joy from catching them? I know there are groups or associations out there... And I am still scarred from a trip to the trout farm with some little friends several years ago...it stays with you.

Lindsey said...

Whoa. I think I need therapy after reading that post! What a horrible description! I hope he recovers! And I hope I DO TOO!

mae said...

How disgusting and sweet at the same time. The fried catfish looked delicious however.

Love the blog facelift.

Annemarie said...

You are mother of the year for that one, my friend.

This is exactly why I love scout camp...it can all go down there!

You have a sweet boy, by the way.

Lala said...

That is So Sad for both of you!

Julianna said...

Awww. I just cried a little. I just keep reminding myself that it's the circle of life... (cue Lion King music).

the wrath of khandrea said...

didn't you ever go to girls camp? that was one of the requirements! any self-respecting mormon woman can catch, clean and cook a fish.

which is why i'm considering converting to catholisicm. i enjoy my self-respect.

Lauren in GA said...

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry (or vomit) as I envisioned those sweet children trying to put that poor thing out of its misery.

Seriously, Stie...you make me laugh. "and still it breathed."

Chase is such a sweetheart. Giving up a military career because of his tender heart.

melissa ( : said...

I went fishing once. I cried when I caught the poor thing. So I let him go. But the hook had done too much damage. So he floated away, dead. What a waste. I've never been fishing again.

I feel Chase's pain. Really, I do.

And you are such a good mommy. I could never gut a fish.

Karey said...

What heartbreak! and what a sweet boy. And what a brave mom.

calibosmom said...

I thoroughly enjoyed whacking my first fish on a rock when I was a kid. I'm not sure what this says about me as a person. Maybe I should join the military-probably not!