“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” -Carl Sagan

SGT. Franklin Pepper didn’t expect his environment to suddenly become too toxic for survival. He didn’t know where the poison came from only that he watched his brothers die in rapid succession while he laid in the gravel unable to move. Death taunted him and mocked him as the body count rose, but he wasn’t ready to go. Death would not claim him today.

Three days passed as he laid in the gravel. On occasion the will to live would rise in him and he would wiggle his way a few inches before passing out from exhaustion. As I removed the bodies from the mass extinction, I would talk to SGT. Franklin Pepper and tell him that he was a warrior and that he was going to survive. Unfortunately, my words were all I could offer as there was nothing more to be done. I could only wait and see if he survived.

My children would talk to SGT. Franklin Pepper too. Every day after school my son would ask if his beloved fish SGT. Franklin Pepper was still alive and rushed to the fish tank as soon as we got home to see for himself. The new UV filter took care of the algal bloom, and the water was now optimal for fish survival. There were a few fish that never fell ill but of those who did, they didn’t survive. Except SGT. Franklin Pepper.

Our fish SGT. Franklin Pepper is back to normal and is thriving. I’m not sure if he remembers how close he was to death he was last week, but we remember. His life serves as a reminder that it is in the struggle and that we can find happiness and gratitude in simply surviving.

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