Sometimes the first thunder comes and everyone is happy. The old people would bring out their ceremonial items and hang them on the tripods to recharge them. Bring life back after a season of resting and sleep.

Wake up my relatives…

Kunshi would stand out in the middle of the storm and hold my hand. She would give thanks to everything.

“Thank you for giving me my life. Thank you for watching over my family….”

Sadness would creep over her and she would cry…

“I wish my sons had made it through the winter. I wished my sister was still here.”

“Kunshi, Here, drink this water to wash down the lump from your throat…. They are still helping the family from the other side….” that was the best I could say in my young mind. I would cry too from the feeling of being helpless.

Lightning strikes all around us throughout the valley still we did not get out of the storm. We will stand here Ma-cook-ines. They are blessing us and will not harm us.

“The Thunderbirds left us last fall and said that some will not see the next spring when they come back …..But they will still be back to help.”

That is the way it is….

The years have passed and many relatives and friends did not see the next spring. I still remember them in my minds eye. I am thankful for being their uncle, brother, nephew, cousin, and friend.

Life always changes Isagha would say to me… what you see today may not be there tomorrow. Always make new relatives to help you on your travels.

Kunshi has long gone but I remember her well.

I stand outside when the first thunder comes and I am not afraid. I drink the water to wash down the hurt and the lump stuck in my throat. I think that: “yes they are helping me from the other side.” An old man sings a “Calling back our children” song in the darkness of the sweat lodge. The song touches my body as I pour water, and the song carries on as my love is feeling the strength of prayer.

I am not afraid to cry anymore…

We will wake up our relatives again.

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