Should have known that remembering and writing about her would stir up the smooth waters where I imagine she took her life. The winds rippling the dark surface, reflecting clouds and sky, where I sit on the porch, waiting.
One grey feather flutters down, beyond the edge of the first step, beyond the reach of the wheelchair I use to get around now. The elders let me stay on the Reservation, because I think in their own way they believed in our devotion, because I think they were somehow ashamed she was the one who left. Usually, it is the outsider, the one who follows The Jesus Way, that breaks first, cannot reconcile the two belief systems.
She never asked too many questions, but I could see how deeply she listened and struggled with the stories, while brushing and braiding her glorious hair, stopping now and then, to weave a feather into the braid. She collected feathers and bones, creating strange but beautiful assemblages, tied tightly with horse hair. Maybe they stood for her substitute children, maybe not.
She was not an easy woman to understand unless she wanted you to...even then, it was difficult. Her mother warned me early on that she was prone to walking in her sleep. At the time, I just took it as son-in-law advice, but later I learned she did other things in her sleep, like riding her horse. I tried to stop her, but it was useless, impossible actually, like trying to stop a storm from happening.
When I said earlier "she took her life", I didn't mean ended it. Why else would I keep waiting, wearing grooves into the porch floor boards? I do not know if she has been gone hours, days, months, or years, but as long as I still find her feathers, I will wait for her.
IRON NODER CHALLEGE