I was in my room playing with Bird-Bird when my mother came in my room talking on the phone. She had an excited expression on her face and I knew right away that she must be talking to Uncle Steve. Uncle Steve was the only family member I really knew on my father's side of the family. Other than my mother's sister, the Mormon, I really didn't know any of my family. I got to talk to Uncle Steve on the phone a couple times a year and if I was lucky, I'd hear news about my father.
I missed him so much. I started to get excited and thought for a second that maybe my Dad was at Uncle Steve's and I'd get to talk to him too! I held on to the hope that my Dad was going to come and get me... he was just getting things ready. The idea that I might talk to him.... and that he might come and get me right then was emotional overload for me. My eyes started to water and my body trembled. I stood there with my hands balled up and an opened mouthed expression of pure joy on my face. I had only talked to my dad on the phone a handful of times since we moved to California and every time he told me he would see me soon. I took this as a promise. My father is coming to get me! and it might right be now!...
It had been about a year this time since I talked to Uncle Steve. "Uncle Steve!!!! Hi! Are you taking good care of Whitey? I got a new Box Care Children book. Remember when you ate that fly! Ha ha." I slapped my knees with both hands and bent over laughing as loud as I could. When I was happy, I liked to let the world know it. "Hee hee hee, emmm mae! Cucuyatramatz! You made me eat that ca-ca fly!" He liked to call me by my Native name and spoke to me a lot in our Native language. To me it was a secret language, a language just between us.
My mother wanted to talk to him about my Dad, but I didn't want to give up the phone, so we put it on speaker phone. "Steve! Any news from you know who?" My mother asked......Silence.... My uncle cleared his throat and in a low soft voice said, "Ah, Sue...You don't know? Oh God, Sue... He's.......dead............"
Time stood still for a few seconds and then I took the phone and I threw it against the wall as hard as I could and ran in my room! I cried and could only breathe by sucking in air in short shallow gulps. I heard my mom pick up the phone and tell my uncle that I was on the line too and had heard everything. Then she came in my room and put her arms around me. "Oh baby, I know, I know, I'm so sorry. I know, I know..." I cried in her arms for a few minutes and then I stood up and told her to get out!
She did not know! She did not know what this meant! I hated her... I cried and cried till there weren't any tears left in me. I sat on my bed and stared into space and rocked myself back and forth. I held my head in my hands and tried to focus on breathing. I couldn't get any air. I didn't know what to do. What would I do?..... No one was coming for me. It was just me and my mother now... It was too heavy for me think about. I couldn't lift my head. I curled up in a ball on the floor and at 10 years old...I felt true hopelessness.
I found out later that my father had died about a year ago and no one had a way to get in touch with my mother and me to let us know. Latter Larry paid for me to fly back home to the reservation to visit my father's grave and say good bye.
Time does not always heal all wounds. The pain of loss still hurts my heart. It feels empty in there... in my heart. It feels like my chest might cave in because of the emptiness. I never got to really know him. It hurts. I am comforted by the fact that God loves my father as much or more than I do. And my father is with him! This thought fills that emptiness inside of me with peace. I can breathe. I can smile through the tears. I can close my eyes and know deep in my soul that my father is in heaven and one day I will see him again.