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.