control, alt, delete…why can’t life be so easy to reset. Each day is different. Some days are better than others. Almost five months have gone by and when I think about my brother the pain is as fresh as the first day. I wonder if its the missing piece gone from my heart and soul.
Going to work has been a struggle every day. Each day I go to work I am reminded of the day my brother called. Sometimes I find myself standing on the same tiles as a few months ago and my heart stops. I feel my stomach clench and my face burns hot. I try to hold back the tears as my students look at me when I pause mid sentence about glueing in pages. I try to gather myself and sometimes I do and sometimes a tear leaks out. Quickly I walk to the back of the class and collect myself.
When I go into Stark’s room, I’m am reminded of the simple words my mother said to me, “Tom’s dead.” Silence. White light filled my soul and then nothing. I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t feel anything. Time stopped. I cried. I wailed. I have never cried like that before and hope to never feel that sudden rush. I felt the part of my soul that was attached to him leave my body when I wailed because then I felt nothing. I could cry but I felt detached and broken.
Its strange how places can so quickly trick one’s mind into being emotional.
I feel fortunate to have friends look at me and they can tell that its been a rough day. They just know. I know that I have that lost look in my eyes that the polite, “How are you?” I just can’t answer that anymore.
I often wonder if my brother was born angry. Maybe that isn’t accurate to say that as a baby he was angry but he was prone to anger at a very young age. The spirit born within my brother was always troubled.
At an early age, we both faced a variety of obstacles. We grew up being one of the first kids of divorced parents in our neighborhood. We were the product of a bi-racial marriage gone wrong. We lived with our white mom and did not resemble her. We were the token Indians in school and were called out to speak on behalf of the entire indigenous world. We were also dressed up as Indians with paper feathers.
This was the upbringing in the school district I now teach in. My brother struggled with other aspects of being Indian. The problem was he wasn’t Indian and he wasn’t white he was a half breed, a mixed blood.Chief and Tonto. All of these things he was called to his face and behind his back. He was teased and picked on.
This bullying was masked by anger that turned to comedy that hid in the alcohol and drug abuse that would take consume his life and steal his light. He rarely discussed these things with anyone and only did a few times with me.
As my birthday approaches, I am reminded of my first meeting with my brother. As told to me by my mother. After I was given the name Ahiddibah and sent on my way to live my life, Woman Who Goes To War met Doola the Little Bull.
My mom was expecting cooler weather for my arrival and brought a warm, neutral-colored outfit to take me home from the base hospital. She dressed me, knit cap and all. My black hair was slick with sweat. Once home, she called my brother to her, “Doola, I want you to meet your sister.”
Cradling me in her arms, she gently sat down on the plaid couch. Curious but cautious, my brother came to my mother and looked expectantly at the bundle in her arms. A gift he assumed was for him. A gift, it had to be since his mother had been gone. She pulled back the yellow blanket from my sweaty face. Quietly, my brother peered in at my tiny newborn face, still puckered from birth. Puckered and sour went his face when he realized it wasn’t a gift.
Was the first greeting given to me from my brother. Upset by the gift of a sister, he wacked me upside my head as the first official greeting and introduction to my brother.
Shortly after this introduction, the Little Bull tangled with War. A few weeks after my birth, was my christening. My godfather wanted to buy lunch for everyone and purchased McDonald’s. My brother was given a happy meal. Toy, burger and fries. The adults carried on in the kitchen eating their lunch and talking. Soon, it was too quite. My brother had disappeared with his happy meal. After becoming a child of Christ, my brother decided to reward my new found faith by giving me his french fries. My mother found him huddled over my cradle with an empty french fry container. All the of the salty fried sticks were stuffed in my mouth.
This was the first of many attempts on my life by my brother. Any chance he was given, he would smother me with blankets and hide my existence in his world. My mom would leave the room only to come back and find me gasping for air under three quilts.
How did I ever survived the first month?
Even with all these battles, somewhere in the past thirty-four years, my brother became my best friend.