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Taking time to truly grieve; letting her go

This week my computer died. It was a total accident, courtesy of a cup of misplaced Gatorade. Nonetheless all of my stories, files, and photos are gone – including a short video of my niece Shiyloh. This week marks an entire year since she has been gone. It’s not often I find myself without words,

This week my computer died. It was a total accident, courtesy of a cup of misplaced Gatorade. Nonetheless all of my stories, files, and photos are gone – including a short video of my niece Shiyloh. This week marks an entire year since she has been gone. It’s not often I find myself without words, but in all honesty it is taking everything I’ve got to put this story together. And yet somehow I feel like I have to say it. For my own sake? Maybe. But also for the sake of all of us out there who are grieved.

My niece was beautiful. She was kind. She was funny. She was brave. And her death was tragic. When I got the call my knees buckled beneath me and I fell to the floor and all I could mutter was, “Little Shiyloh.” I sat there on the cement floor of the print shop weeping and moaning. No. Not her. Why? How? That weekend was a blur. I vaguely remember hugging people. I remember laughing at jokes and smiling at visitors as they arrived. I also remember bursting with tears from moment to moment. Scattered showers fell from my heart as memories of my niece passed through my mind; from the first time we met to the last time we saw one another.

All these thoughts ran through my mind for the entire week. After the funeral was done and the visitors left – I was left with my own grief.

This loss was compounded by other tragedies in my life that left me with sorrow upon sorrow; or to paraphrase the poet Sherman Alexie – grief squared. Just this last week before my computer malfunctioned I happened to come across a short video that I didn’t know I had. In it my niece says nothing at all. She just looks straight at the camera and smiles, doing a short little wave that was so particularly “her”.

It was heartwarming. It made me smile and feel like somehow, she was a little less far away than usual. But when I got the call from the tech guy that my computer was “dead” and unfixable, again the loss was compounded. Call me superstitious but I am definitely one of those “everything happens for a reason” type people. And I think finding that video just before my computer crapped out on me was a gift.

Maybe “He Who Created Our Bodies”, in all of His great knowledge, gave me that video just once as a little wave goodbye from Shiyloh to help ease me toward letting her go. Nevertheless I found myself in another one of those sacred moments when the Creator is showing me something. Holding up the looking glass at my current situation and revealing to me that it’s time to let her go. After the one year feast is through I won’t stop thinking about her.

I don’t think that I will ever not be grieved at losing her when she was still a child. But I can say that this entire year has been filled with reconciling my strange new reality; life without her in it. I have grappled with anger, I have struggled through shame and blame. And now finally, I feel like somehow I am ready to pass through this ceremonial releasing of her into the hands of Our Creator, permitting her into His care, and letting her go on to fully complete her journey.

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Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow is Onondaga under the wing of the Beaver Clan of Six Nations. Nahnda has been a journalist with the Two Row Times since it's founding in 2013. She is a self-proclaimed "rez girl" who brings to the Two Row Times years of experience as a Haudenosaunee cultural interpreter, traditional dancer and beadwork aficionado. Nahnda is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.

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2 Comments

  • michaelandwendymain@gmail.com
    September 19, 2014, 2:27 pm

    I always look forward to your columns, Nahnda, but this one in particular touched my heart deeply. Thank you for your columns, full of wit and intelligence! Keep up the fine work!

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  • Stephanie
    August 19, 2014, 4:17 pm

    <3

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