Celeste’s trouble dreams haunted her throughout the time she laid next to Henry’s cold body. She opened her weary eyes and sat up to swing her feet on the floor. Henry’s bedroom has a empty feeling as Celeste sits beside his body to cradle her worry mind in her hands. The room is semi-dark, she hears the large aged old clock on the wall in Henry’s room chime four times in its whimsical sound. It takes all her energy to rise from the bed and begin the task of cleansing Henry’s body for burial. She had learned this year with Mr. Spencer the ceremonial ritual of the Cherokee ways on how to prep a body for passing. She heads to her room and gathers a stalk of lavender she had drying out for burning, and grabbed her tenure oil she made out of the pleasant earthy herb. She loved the intoxicating scent and adored soaking in the bath tub with the herb, but never thought she would be using it to purify Henry’s passing.
Before going back into her grandfather’s room she went to get a warm bowl of water with a wash cloth and then sat beside his bed for a few more silent moments pondering how to clean his body. With slow care she stood up and slid the beautiful blue cover down his long strong cold naked body. In lethargic motions she dipped the cloth into the water and began to wash is nude body with love and respect. Each stroke to clean the man’s body bit into her soul of intense loneliness, and when finished she reached for the lavender oil and rubbed his whole body down with the oily substance. Even though she was no stranger in nudity, it seemed odd viewing her grandfather’s body. Softly she pulled out a white cotton bed sheet, and wrapped his body firmly inside the covering and tied long leather rope to ensure the sheet covered her beloved father’s dead body. Celeste reached for the dried stalk of herb and lit the end with fire. The room began to fill up with the heavy scent of lavender smoke in no time at all. Silently she waved the dried herb in the air unable to speak a word. And when complete she gazes one more time at her only parent in life and whispers out, “I love ya forever papa,” she turns on her bare feet and closes Henry’s bedroom door.
Each step the cowgirl takes breaks the last thread of hope in her heart, she finds herself standing in front of Henry’s chair at the kitchen table and pulls the chair out to sit at the table for hours silently unable to speak, cry, or act out any emotions that invaded her mind. For hours she sat in the dark house not knowing what to do until a story pops into her head that was told to her by Mr. Spencer how Cherokee view life and death. She scrunches up her brows in heavy thought about the Cherokee story of two dogs.
Two dogs which were asleep when the smoke offerings were made, they were forgotten when the dogs awoke they were grieved and angry because they had been neglected when smoke offerings had been made to all other living things. They said to the people, you have failed to make smoke offerings to us; therefore, to punish you we shall bite you and yet we will never leave you. We shall follow you and be with you forever. The names of these two dogs were sickness and death, and so as they said, sickness and death are always among all living things upon the earth. Our powers increase and fade, we have strength and weariness, and we are bitten by sickness and death. The sun rises and shines yet it is overcome by darkness. The moon waxes to fullness and then fades away. Th flowers bloom and wither; the leaves come forth and are cut down by autumn. The wind blows and there is calm. So changes come, and all things sicken and die, but though sickness and death may bite all things that are bitten return and are reborn again. Celeste is about to speak the Indian prayer of death when a voice inside her head spoke for her, “Walk with Mother Earth into balance and peace because beneath our feet lay the bones of our noble ancestors.”
Celeste didn’t respond to the voice except get up off the chair and went to the telephone to call the hospital for someone to pick up her precious cargo. It didn’t take any time at all to remove the dead body, and when all was said and done Celeste found herself alone in an empty house at the age of sixteen. Celeste heads outside to feed of the animals and returns to the farm home. The cowgirl immediately closes all the windows from the sunlight and locks the doors to sit in the dark home alone. Her body is aching and struck into dumbness as she slowly walks around the living room with countless memories, she sits on the couch and grabs a blanket to cover her chilly body up and milks her wounded soul from the great loss of her peaceful world. She hears another invasion enter her mind and shakes her confused head from its kind words of wisdom, but she could careless what it spoke, she curled up her long body and laid on the couch slipping into a nothingness world of disappointments.
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