Before my parents divorced twice over the Vietnam War,
Before my Mom left us in Southeast Asia for 2 years when I was 10,
Before we reunited with her in Crested Butte when I was 12,
Before I was living alone in a trailer when I was 14,
Before my academic scholarship to college, which I nearly lost a few times,
Before I was homeless in New York City,
Before Mom’s breast cancer came back after John died,
Before she fingered the soft nightgowns I bought her at Saks Fifth Avenue,
Before those nightgowns were stolen her first day in county hospice,
Before we spread her ashes in the Sierras on a December morning,
Before my own breast cancer last year,
Before all of these things and so much more,
A Hopi man near Flagstaff looked into my 8 year old eyes and said:
I am watching you.
And so I carved this kachina for you.
A deer kachina full of deer medicine.
You are young but you have never been a child.
You are brave with the gentleness of deer.
And the strength of deer fills you.
It is a harder road you are on but you are not alone.
The ancestors are always with you.
They see your light.
They see your heart.
And know they are smiling.