A couple of months ago, a friend from another reservation told me about a car accident on her reservation that killed a young mother and two of her children.  The young mother left behind a husband and two other children.

Having lost a 17-year-old son (Joel) in a car accident, my heart immediately went out to the father and two children who survived.  My friend, knowing my interest, kept me informed on how the man was handling his loss.  Last week, when she told me the family was in tough shape, I asked her, "Do you think it would do any good if I talked with him?"

To be honest, I admit my reason for wanting to visit with him was partly selfish.  It would give me a chance to talk about Joel.  Although it has been eight summers since Joel went to the Spirit World, I miss him just as much today as the day he died, and I jump at a chance to talk about him.  Talking about him, as anyone who has lost a close family member knows, is very therapeutic.

My friend sent me an email asking when would I have time to meet with this young man.  I told her Sunday evening.  Sunday, I drove to her home reservation, and she took me to his house and introduced us.  Having never met the young man, I wasn't sure how to go about "counseling" him, and I got off to a tentative start.  However, we soon became comfortable with each other, and I felt I made some good suggestions and observations.

I had to watch myself to make sure I did not focus on stories about Joel too much. Therefore, I made sure I asked him questions that led to him talking about how he felt.  He talked about his wife several times, what she liked to do, what their plans were, and how empty his world was without her, and how hard it was on the two surviving children.  It was very hard sitting there listening to him.  I actually could "feel" his tremendous grief, and it took a toll on me.  I had to stop myself many times from getting up and giving him a hug.  He didn't appear to be the touchy feely kind.

We visited for a couple of hours and when we were finished, I called my friend who came over and ate supper with us.  My friend had told the young man how to prepare ''nine can soup," and I wondered what it was going to taste like.  Surprisingly, it was very good and I told my friend to send me the list of cans she used in the soup.  An old bachelor like me is always interested in simple ways to cook good tasting meals.  The young man fed us moose meat sandwiches as well, and it was very good.  When I finished eating, I stood up to leave and shook hands with him.  He told me I helped him a lot, which made me glad I made the trip.  I felt emotionally drained when I left.

I feel so sorry for him because I know from personal experience he has a tough, tough road ahead of him.  I plan to stop in and see him next time I am on his reservation.

An hour into the trip home, I began to feel good.  I took that as a sign something went right. 

Coincidently, my oldest son, Erich Jr., who's mother passed away recently, came over to visit me yesterday right before I went to visit the young man who lost his wife and two children.  Erich Jr. was his mother's only child, so they were particularly close.  He has been on sick leave from his job ever since his mom died and needed financial assistance, so I helped him out.

Having been raised by his mother, I did not have the chance to get to know Erich Jr. really well until he turned 18 and began to visit me.

We had a long talk, and I told him about how bad I felt when I heard his mother had died, although it was almost 30 years since I had been close to her.  I told him the star quilt I left on the "give away" table was my best star quilt I had, and I had wanted it to cover her casket when they buried her, but I felt I did not have the right to make that request.  I told him things about our relationship that I never told him before.  Finally, I told him I would help him purchase a head stone for her grave.  He left promising to visit me more often.

It was an emotional but fulfilling weekend.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Erich Longie published on September 21, 2009 9:47 PM.

Powwow Week(end) was the previous entry in this blog.

How Does An Honest Person Survive in This World? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.