Asu. Hair like ravens wings, eyes like low hanging crescent moons, soul like star shine. I read somewhere that in order to understand your current life’s purpose you need to look to your lineage and find a thread to pull upon that will show you how your reality is connected to the ancestors. I look at you Asu, in all of your inherent beauty and I can see the hurt in the pools of your eyes that changes how you see the world. I can sometimes see this just-beneath-the-surface-pain in the eyes of my mother, of my aunties, the women who raised me. It is caught and twisted into the hard lines of their faces and is broken down with every laugh and cleansing tear.
When you were a child your mother died and you told me of how you trailed behind the funeral procession, unsure of what was going on. No one had explained death in its finality to you and today you can still hear their voices, “Look at that bastard. She doesn’t even care her mother died. Ugly bastard.” The words never change as they escape from your mouth, and I have heard the story a dozen or so times. I watch as your eyes glaze over and you are transported to another place and time where I cannot go. I remain helpless, because I cannot save you nor shield you from re-experiencing what crippled your spirit so. You were one out of three siblings and the only one to be cast out as an undesirable. I cry at this thought of you and am angry at how I want to believe that it is one of our tribal beliefs that children are gifts from the Creator. How can I believe this, if this was not true half a century ago in the North? How can I believe it, if these truths are stories that are not the ones that I hear from my own? I need the truth of what it was like before reserve boundaries were created, before clothing was made out of fabric, before the tainted touch of patriarchy and presence of white privilege. Perhaps you were born half a century too early, and then surely it would have been a different story Asu. Surely it would have.
You enter a room a moment after a joke is told, possibly about the short luck of another or something others wouldn’t joke about because we have a satire humor like that. We need to be able to laugh at addictions, death, and hard times so the darkness of it doesn’t hold us. You enter as the laughter climaxes, your ears too aged to have heard the preceding punch lines, and you shuffle about the room. Your face flush with shame, I can hear you outside of your door speaking to Jesus, or to grandpa’s ghost or maybe another part of yourself… “It’s okay, everyone has laughed at me my whole life. Called me names. It’s okay if they want to laugh at me like that”.
Your pain has been pulled over your eyes and creates the world you live in. I try to intervene and tell you what was really going on, speak some truth into your clouded eyes but you have already made your mind up. You have already shaped your experiences and told me once that you are too old to learn any other way than what you know. Say the Lords’ prayer with foggy eyes transfixed upon the crucifix, hold your rosary, you know no other way Asu.
You are only part sorrow; the majority of the river that flows from you gives life. You are acceptance. You are love. You are compassion. Your blood runs strong within the veins of my mother, in my blood pathways, in my sons.
Only those who love you see this darker side of you and the demons that you struggle with in any given hour. You are known for your kindness and for giving abundantly from what little you have. You are known for your home and for opening the doors to countless other children and individuals. You are known for your beauty Asu, I wish that you knew that.
When I was broken down by my addiction to such a jagged being and began to hurt those around me, you were the only one who could see me. Being next to you made me feel human again and reminded me that I could be who I was meant to be. I would lay beside you in your bed and cry against your frail figure, knowing you couldn’t hear my weeping but could feel the vibration of it. You did not shun me, nor scold me, instead you loved me. Your hands, full of decades of prayer, would be laid upon my face and you would bring my eyes to meet yours. In those moments, your pain receded from your eyes and you radiated love and acceptance down upon me. I am forever grateful for that Asu. Your love is a prayer. Your love is healing.
In “Healing the Soul Wound” by Duran, there is a snapshot story of Duran working with a client who was dealing with anger and addiction issues. The book itself is about healing trauma that is passed down through generations with the specific focus on the Indigenous populations of North America. Duran guides this young man to speak to the pain of his parents and grandmothers and grandfathers and understand how he inherited this struggle indirectly. The moving moment is when he tells the young man that when he chooses to heal, he brings all of that power, all of that medicine, all of that strength back to his people. Everything that was lost can be reclaimed.
I see my task and purpose is to heal fully and truly. It is not a simple endeavor but will be a long arduous journey but it is mine and I accept the magnitude of it knowing of its’ importance not only for me, or those who came before, but for my son and those yet to come. I must uncloud my own vision and lay the anger, insecurities, and shame of my past to rest.