Saturday, May 9, 2009


This morning I went to a memorial service for three Yakama fishermen who died in the River a year ago. The families also thanked the people who had helped with the search for the fishermen and the people who had helped feed and care for the searchers. It was a beautiful day. We stood near the Columbia River beneath the tall cottonwoods as the sound of the drums reverberated through the trees.

I stood amongst dozens of people, most of them Native, and I cried. I felt grief in the air, I felt it rising up from the ground, I felt it as I looked up at the sky: grief for the families of the three fishermen and grief for my friend whose daughter was murdered yesterday.

We have seen too much death in our little community over the last few years, most of it from illnesses. This death of someone so young at the hands of someone who was supposed to love her is especially difficult. Outside, right now, everyone is going on with their lives. Next door the children are playing catch with their father. Someone a few houses down is mowing. A dog is barking.

When my mother died, I thought it was strange that everyone carried on with their lives even though she was dead and we were in pain. Yet it happened in winter, so it seemed as though the natural world mourned with us. When Linda died, it was a beautiful day. I was glad for that. I was glad she wasn't in pain any longer. I felt her presence in every flower I saw. I felt her all around me. And I was so exhausted that I didn't actually notice that another world was still turning outside our death watch.

In both cases, we gathered together as a community. I went home to my family where we were cared for by our relatives. When Linda died, we gathered together with her family and friends.

It is difficult to know what to do when someone's child has been murdered. Even when that children is an adult. We've all called. We've all offered our love, condolences, and help. Is there something else we can do?

I keep remembering the girl I knew in high school who was murdered. I can still remember in my body what it felt like when I found out. How I was alone. How I heard the act described in horrendous detail on the news. How I ran around the dark house where I was babysitting with my hand in my mouth so I wouldn't scream. I called my dad and he came and sat with me until the parents of the children I was babysitting came home.

None of us has ever forgotten that girl or her wonderful short life—or her devastating death.

Death is part of the natural cycle of our lives. Death by murder is not natural; it is not part of the cycle. It is a horrifying way to die for the victim and for the family.

And yet books and movies and television shows make entertainment out of it. It's not entertaining. It is awful. It is life-altering.

My cousin's husband was murdered. She was left widowed with three children. My brother in law's brother was murdered. He left behind a family who loved him.

No words.

It's a beautiful sunny day. I can't seem to move. Just got more information on the murder. I don't understand how someone could murder someone they loved. It has never made sense to me. If I told Mario I was leaving him, he might have a million different responses but murder would not be one of them. We need to teach our boys how to be in touch with their feelings, truly, so that when they do have a rush of emotion they don't pick of a gun to assuage it. I don't know. Is that what happens? Or is it that so many men view girlfriends and wives what? Things they can rape, kill, beat?

I have no wise words today. I will go dig in the earth later with my wonderful husband. I will sit my body down. I will send my friend my love and healing energy. I will do whatever anyone asks of me during this time. Later we will drum.

Things have got to change. We need a revolution. I don't think we can wait for one person at a time to change, one family at a time. Mario and I had our own little revolutionary marriage. Our own little revolutionary lives. We thought many people would be like us. Equals. No violence. No supposedly gender-determined roles. Just two people who loved each other and committed ourselves to one another.

We don't know a lot of couples like us. Women still seem to do most of the domestic chores, women still seem to be the major caregivers for the children. The difference is now women work outside AND inside the home. (We still hardly know any men who cook for themselves. As my father said, "Come on. Grow up! How can you be X-amount of years old and still behave like a child?") Women are still considered as property, as second-class, by so many men and in so many cultures.

But I don't want to have a political discussion on this day. That takes away from this one tragedy. A man killed a woman. It was wrong. It was terrible. Two families will never be the same. Every violent death diminishes a community—changes a community.

We are all forever changed by this.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Thank you, Kim, for writing this. I went to a Memorial Service today, too~ a woman I knew through Qigong who was a powerful loving presence in the lives of many. She was able to die with amazing consciousness and willingness to learn from her process. The service was profound for me because it is the first time I have been a witness to how someone can die with Love guiding their every step. It changed me to open my heart to this shared experience.

And you have been changed, too, by your exposure to other ways of dying. The hardest parts... I honor you for being willing to be a true witness and yet allow yourself to be changed, too.

Many Blessings, sister Mermaid.

All work copyright © Kim Antieau 2008-.