“I know how it is to yearn for something and know that it exists just beyond the edge of what you know. For your ribcage to ache for an embrace it’s never felt. To travel through your traditional territories and see phantom Indian villages where your people lived…” my voice trails off and I cannot hold back the tears.
“I know how that coyote feels,” I whisper.
My hard faced teacher, who is known to pepper her lectures with “f*cks” and “sh*ts”, has tears in her eyes. She understands the coyote too.
The story she read in class was about a coyote who had forgotten who he was, and was trying to remember. The old run down coyote lifts his weary head and from the deepest place within him, he cries out. He sings and finds out that he has forgotten pieces of his song but he carries on nonetheless. He howls to the nights sky, trying to remember.
We are all coyotes with missing songs.
This does not mean that we shouldn’t sing anyways. We sing because we risk losing it all if we do not.
A few months ago I was in a room of elders who were discussing the dreamers of my Dane Zaa tribe. The dreamers were prophets who foretold what was to come, where the next hunt would be, and they visited the other side.
One elder said that we need to start teaching the young ones the dreamers songs and keep alive “what we have left”.
“What we have left…”
The statement denotes that we have lost. Upon hearing these words escaping his mouth a part of me began to ache with an unexplainable sorrow. I know I hold my grandmothers and grandfathers memories in my blood. My feet walk the same land that cradled their moccasins but I will never know the full song.
Yes. I know how that coyote feels.
I have heard of various nations that have specific grief processes. One tribe helped heal a warrior who kills someone by placing them in a lodge for several days and nights to allow their spirit to heal from the trauma.
We have been through so much in such a short time and we have not been able to mourn rightly for what we have lost.
I have to mourn the pieces of my missing song so that I can honour them and move forward in a good way. The other pieces may find me through dreams, other teachers, or they may never. I have to make peace with that now.
How? I am unsure. I don’t know all the answers and I’m still pretty lost but I’m looking for the way and I trust that I will find it.
I discussed these feelings with my aunt and she reiterated the same yearnings.
“Maybe you were born like this, with these yearnings, for a reason,” she said.
There are days that I feel like I am crazy and just need to carry on, but that’s not what I’m here for. I came to remember.