Grief doesn’t get easier… We just learn to accept the memories are more significant than the loss
Stares into nothingness
Daydreams of a time before
when you were here
Floats a little white feather
into my view
Swaying gently into time and space
then I think of you
floats a little white feather
to good to be true
Memories of you enter my mind
a hurt that never heals
floats a little white feather
a miracle transformed into you
Gone from here but not forgotten
Little white feather
I wait for you
I hope that after reading this article you will remember her name. After watching the CBC Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women public forum on the National Inquiry thoughts and feelings arise as I travel through the confines of my mind. I have an aunt that died on March 19, 2011. They say of natural causes, but, I believe something else happened to her, there were too many odd things that had surfaced that were quite strange.
Margie was by no means a perfect women, she had her flaws and addictions; she also wasn’t in the best of health at 60 years old. she had cirrhosis of the liver drank a lot and indulged into some hard core drugs to escape the pain of her childhood. But she was by no means close to death.
She was and is still my favourite aunt, she will always be special to me. She watches over me, comforts me when I feel down, although she has left this physical plane she is very much a part of my life. She compels me to speak about her because she knows that I was once in a similar position as her, not health wise, but, more so the lifestyles we lived were more common than I like to admit.
We spent a lot of time together and when she became sick we became even closer. Something gave me the feeling that she knew something we didn’t. She would ask me to do certain things for her if she was to pass away. At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to her requests because I thought she was over exaggerating her health condition. We spoke every day and she would make time to spend with my son and always kept her promises to him. Needless to say she was his favourite aunt too.
One day Margie had planned to spend the afternoon with my son during March break that she would pick my son up and go on “their adventure”. That day came and went with no call or text message from her. This was odd to me because she always answers my calls no matter how messed up she would get. She would at least let me know that she couldn’t make it. This was a Friday. Saturday I called and left several messages for her to return my call and no response. Finally on the Sunday I kept calling repeatedly and finally her boyfriend answered.
I had asked, “what had happened to her she had made plans with Daniel but we never heard from her?’.
He responded, “she is not here”.
“Where is she?” I asked.
“At the hospital” he responded.
I quickly responded “What hospital I will go see her!”
He told me not to bother because she is DEAD. There was a long silence and I said thank you for letting me know, I will let the rest of the family know and we will be in touch again soon.
I was in shock that she was gone. Just like that. No phone call that she was in the hospital and no phone call that she had died in the hospital. This seemed odd to me but we carried on to prepare her for her journey through the Western door. The Ceremony was a closed casket, the funeral director told us that she was unrecognisable and it may startle some folks, that only the close family members who were preparing her body could open the casket.
He was right she had swelled up like a balloon and she had no shoes on her feet. Anishnawbe people always send spirits home with the proper necessities to make the four day journey. As myself, my 2 aunts, my mother, and traditional helper prepared the body it was truly an honour to be a part of that ceremony. But I noticed that she had a dress on that she never wore before and would not be caught in something like that alive. It was an old black laced dress, the ones that look like doilies that you cover your coffee table with. My aunt had noticed that I had an odd look on my face, she knew what I was thinking – why is she in this dress? – My aunt said, “I know, I went to her house yesterday and Ronnie had gotten rid of all of her stuff, he threw it away. The Funeral Director donated the dress for her because she came to the funeral home with nothing. we completed preparing the body and began to gather in the room for the ceremony.
There was so many people there I did not know she had so many friends. There were drummers and singers, prayer and a chance to say some last words. Daniel only 6 years old at the time was a brave little soul, he got up there by himself and shared his heart with the room. How much he loved her and how sad he was that he would never be able to go on adventures with his Auntie Margie. The whole room filled with tears as he poured his little heart out. The service was beautiful and she left in a good way. At the end of the service, Ronnie finally showed up to pay his condolences. He gave my son an Elephant that was Margie’s and told him he should keep this and left. He never went to the casket, spoke with the family, or said any last words; and after this day we never saw or heard from him again.
As the days and weeks passed I would replay what had happened from the time I found out she was dead until the end of the funeral. There were so many gaps and unanswered questions. Sure she was sick, yes she drank, and yes she didn’t take good care of herself, but the way Ronnie had acted after being with her for over 20 years got me thinking, what did she really die from? Why had there been so little details of her death and most importantly why wasn’t our family or at least me notified that she was that sick and that she died. When Ronnie answered the phone that day, his responses were limited and that I felt as though I had to pry it out of him where she was. And the most peculiar thing to me was why did he throw away everything she had before we even had time to go though what we would like to keep . Margie was sick but Margie also lived in an abusive relationship. I ask myself often and I am quite convinced that something happened between her and him that lead her to her death.
Being Native didn’t help because the police didn’t even bother to question her death or ask the family any questions. And the hospital had no information for us either. We were left with many questions and no answer. What would you think? What can you do? We live in Country where Indigenous women are targets of abuse, rape, being murdered or missing. The Inquiry public forum had opened up old wounds that I have tried to put behind me. It is never easy sharing our stories of our Indigenous women who still to this day have no protection against predators. This is just one story of many, there is not one Indigenous person’s life that MMIW hasn’t affected them in some way. So please I ask you to say her name Mary Margret Mckenna. She is loved and missed everyday…. NO MORE SILENCE!
I don’t think there is a single man on this Earth that I have loved more than you. You loved me unconditionally. You were the only one who has been there ever since I born.You filled the void that I had while growing up as a child. You are my friend, a role model and a father figure to me. You made growing up without my dad around bearable.
I love to hear stories about you, how you named me at birth, were there for my first steps and treated me as if I was your own daughter. For this Papa there is nothing in this world that I care about more than you.
I remember you teaching me right from wrong, always gave me sound advice, stood up for me and provided truth to some of the harsh realities of choices I had made in life for myself. You never once judged me or put me down. I couldn’t have been more blessed than to have a grandfather more caring than you.
For the past several years you have slowly began to forget little things where you put your glasses, miss placing things, forgetting the date or which day of the week it was. This has gotten worse over the years, to the point that you were unable to care for yourself.
But it got even more worse, by no fault of your own, you began to forget my name, how old I was and that I couldn’t be me because I was too old; you thought I was still a child, your mind wouldn’t let you believe that I had grown into a woman. I let it go knowing it was the disease that was taking control of your thoughts and stealing your memories. Alzheimer’s Disease was slow taking its toll and there was nothing I could do.
About 6 months ago you no longer recognized me at all, had no idea who I was or my name. This absolutely broke my heart. But still nothing I could do to change it. I try to convince myself that this doesn’t bother me, but I am lost without you. I push through the days, keeping busy with life, and cut back on coming to see you just because it was easier to deal with if I didn’t think about you. I know this was wrong but I did it to save my memories of you.
Last week I thought I was going to lose you for good. I prayed and begged for you not to leave me yet. I danced for you, asking Creator to let me have just one more time with you here, that I wasn’t ready to let you go. You gave us all a scare. This made me realize how much I depend on you for my strength even though you don’t have much yourself any more. He answered my prayer. I was able to have another special moment with you.
I came to visit you yesterday and the day before. Not much had changed during the first visit, but the visit I had with you in the morning is one that I will never forget. You knew who I was, if only for a brief moment in time, it meant the world to me. Still, there was something more special about this encounter. You had asked me if I had saw that big light we had here the other day? You also told me that you saw dude [a nickname you had called grandma]. You went on to tell me that you tried to talk to her. You began to have a loss of words. The only thing that you could think of to further explain the event was that “kinda like a boss” was there and wouldn’t let you speak to her. This to me sounded as if you were so close to the other side, the after life, and she was waiting for you, but you decided to come back.
As the tears are falling down my face as I share this story, I am ready to let you go. People may not believe what I writing about today, but I don’t care. I know your spirit was reaching out to me and somehow it has given me closure. I will cherish every moment from now on that I get to spend with you… Although, deep down, I know you will always be with me; watching over me and guiding me though this life. I thank you so much for helping to understand that this disease is not who you really are.