The sky was cold and gray today.
Gusts of chill wind clutched half-heartedly,
Plucking drearily at my jacket flaps,
Flicking icy droplets of rain against my face,
Mingling with my tears to form bleak rivulets
Trickling down my neck to end in a dreary shiver.
Of the gloom, the despondency, the dejection
Clutching at my heart,
Choking, grasping,
Drowning me in a dismal morass
Of sorrow.
Because you’re gone.
How could you do this to me?
How could you just go off and leave me all alone.
Alone again.
They said at the church,
We should be happy. We should rejoice
‘Cause you’re happy.
No more pain, no sorrow, no cane.
No loneliness.
They talked of how lonely you’ve been.
Your husband, the old ones
All gone on before.
Yes. You told me this yourself
So many times.
Yes, you must be happy,
Such a joyous reunion with those
You’ll never lose again.
Even more happy –
Meeting, face to face, gazing with love unbounded,
Into the eyes of Him who you knew so well,
He who is Life and Love itself.
Yes! Joy unbounded!
Pure, ecstatic, perfect love!
So why,
Why do I sorrow so for you?
Or is it really you for whom I sorrow –
No. For myself I sorrow.
For loneliness regained.
With you I never felt rejected.
You didn’t seem to see the things,
The little things
That loom so large on some folks’ horizons –
The colour of my skin.
Where I came from (someplace other
Than this wondrous bit of soil).
When I was with you
I felt safe. At home.
Never an outsider.
Never lonely.
Grace, they named you.
How rightly they named you.
For kindness, cheerfulness, goodness,
Charity, beauty
(Of the heart – as well as of your lovely face).
All were you.
And so you were to all
Who had the delight to know you,
To love you.
I saw it today in their faces.
I heard it in their voices.
I felt it in the laughter
Mingled with tears,
As they shared their hearts’ memories.
Yes, the wind still blows,
Now more violently.
Whistling, howling fiercely round the corners of the house.
The sky is black,
Even the moon’s pale light obliterated
By the fury of the storm.
The rain slashes down,
Cold, soaking, chilling to the bone.
But my heart refuses now to reflect
The storm’s bitter dismay.
In my heart
A single ray of warm, comforting Sunlight
Steals slantwise through a chink
In the armor I have built against the pain.
Steals in,
And suddenly floods my being
Reaching joyously into the gloomiest corners,
The bitterest closets of my heart.
Yes, Naanii!
I can share your joy!
And know of a certainty
That I’ll see you soon again.
A joyous reunion, no more loneliness, no more sorrow!
Just a little while.
We’ll hug again, Naanii Grace.

Naanii Grace Wilson Dewitt, honored Haida elder, and beloved naanii (grandmother)  to all who had the joyful privilege of knowing her

Naanii Grace

Norma J Hill

5 November 1993