Friday, September 10, 2010

Laying Down Tobacco for Yvonne...

It's not often that I share this side of me with those who are unfamiliar with the action of laying down tobacco.

When I went home to the rez this week, I didn't get to spend much time outside, which is my preference. The weather was overcast most of the time and it rained off and on. A gentle rain that made me think that the clouds were crying.

I wound up going to the cemetery before returning to Lincoln. Checking on relatives lying up on the hillside of varying greens. There were lots of flowers here and there. Some were actually real.

I went to my relative, Yvonne Ortiz' graveside, to lay down tobacco and ask for a blessing of peace for her mother and father. They miss her. Unbearably so.

I miss her.

Her voice came to me for a moment, from two years ago, when she told me how her tumors had returned. She asked for prayers. And I prayed.

Then my sister Tara's voice came to me when she called me one morning last November, to tell me that she was preparing to come to Macy. With Yvonne. That they were bringing her home.

During the wake and funeral, I don't think the Omaha Indian Reservation had ever had so many Ojibwe's, (Midewiwins at that), and Dakota's in one location in a very long time. If ever.

And they came for Yvonne.

At 29, she made her Spirit Journey. She left a strong legacy behind of living a healthy lifestyle. She was dedicated to serving the Native community in researching the traditional uses of natural tobacco. The 5th Annual Connecting Our Lifeways: Traditional Tobacco Use and Contemporary Use Conference honored her by hosting a 1k memorial walk at the Prairie Island Indian Community, Minnesota.

I think of her in this way, while she was here, she put her entire being into everything she did, thoroughly, and she smiled all the time. A magical, gorgeous smile that dazzled everyone who saw her this way.

So, I thought of her smile, as I lay down the natural tobacco on her grave. It was for her parents, that they can go on living with perhaps a little less pain.

The clouds had cleared and the sun smiled down, gorgeously, on the beautiful place where she lies.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Making Connections: Am I unwilling to emotionally invest?

I had a great visit on the phone with my sister, Tara, last night. She was on her way to Rapid City for a job interview and had just stopped for the night somewhere in South Dakota. Our conversation ran along the lines of where we are in our lives right now, at least, career wise. Both of us are single mothers and are very dedicated to a way of life that is in service to the people.

One of the things that I have always valued about my connection with Tara is that I need to do very little explaining about what's happening in my life. She gets what I am saying.

In talking with her, I said, "I have been here in Lincoln for a little over two years now and although I have a really strong connection with our sundance circle here, I still have held many people at arms length! I haven't really connected with anyone here, like I did in the Twin Cities!"

She replied, "Well, it's because you have been uncertain about what you are going to do, whether you are going to stay there or not. You haven't made any emotional investments! Especially if you plan to move again."

Hmmmm...this gave me much to think about today.

I went to the Talking Circle last night. I got to share and again, feel very connected to this circle, as well. I really do love people in the Lincoln Community! But I know this about myself. I hesitate to get close. Getting close to someone, anyone, can be an absolute joy but can also be terrifying if one has to leave.

Okay. So what do I do?

I have been spending time with different friends, from time to time. I have hosted birthday parties at my house and have had ceremonies, too. So, I am not totally reclusive! And, I am continually surrounded with my children.

This is an interesting time for me. I feel that I am becoming the writer I've always wanted to be and I am doing the things I love to do! But there is still that one element of letting anyone get close to me.

I need to grow...again.