The sound of eternity

The sound of eternity
Kirbie Bennett - 05/16/2024

05/19/2024: Yá’át’ééh, Aunt Dorothy. I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written to you. I mean, today is my birthday, and we are now approaching 20 years since you passed away into that other realm. I imagine you are now good friends with your favorite artists, like George Jones and Johnny Cash. Is that true? I mean, I miss hearing your stories. I mean, around this time 20 years ago you left, and I was not ready for that. You were my second mother, Aunt Dorothy, and I was not ready to be a pallbearer at 16, carrying you, shimá yazhí, to rest in the desert, our home. So much time has passed, Auntie. I do a lot more writing these days. I finally feel confident calling myself a writer. I finally feel confident being alive, and that wasn’t always the case, I’m sorry. It took time, but I am learning to love smiling. Speaking of smiling, around this time of year, I am thinking of you because these clear blue skies and days of endless beauty remind me of your smile. The mountains that surround us remind me of your warm hugs. Auntie, I don’t know how many chances I’ve had or how many times I’ve failed, I have lost count, but lately it feels like life is beginning again. Every year is a miracle, a blessing and today, Auntie, you are in my heart because

05/19/two-thousand-and-four: these are days of endless beauty & earlier today for my birthday I bought the new Fall Out Boy CD, it’s an EP full of acoustic songs that will be fun to learn on guitar soon but Auntie, you’re not with us tonight for dinner in Shiprock, N.M. There’s an empty seat at the table & mom looks worried about your condition. You are 200 miles away in an Albuquerque hospital, so before our meal, we pray & I include you in the prayer, it goes like this: Creator, bless my Aunt Dorothy with good health because she is an angel. I mean, she devoted her life to helping Diné families impacted by uranium mining, she worked tirelessly helping families receive compensation, & remember my grandfather, too, was a uranium miner & many of my family members, including my aunt, were exposed to radiation. Remember, the reason my aunt’s in the hospital is because exposure to uranium has impacted her life since she was young. Remember, the reason she became a caseworker for affected Diné people is because of my family’s connection to that injustice. She helped as many families as she could before her health declined & God, what do you call that? Is that love or justice? What’s the difference 

05/24/two-zero-zero-four: between these days, they all feel the same, I am suspended in sadness at the UNM hospital in Albuquerque, the white walls & fluorescent lighting make me feel queasy. We are endlessly waiting. Endlessly hoping Auntie will pull through. God did you hear my prayer the other day? Next year my aunt turns 50 & she deserves to celebrate that because every year is a miracle. I roam the hospital with a CD player & headphones & there’s a song I keep replaying, I focus on these lyrics: If I could I would shrink myself/ Sink through your skin to your blood cells/ Remove whatever makes you hurt. Auntie, I keep repeating those words in your room, hoping I can give you my health, so you can recover & wake up & we can celebrate more birthdays.

But then – there’s the sound of medical machines flatlining. It breaks through the music. It breaks through my heart. I can’t let go of you. I want those lyrics to come true as I’m holding you. Auntie, before you leave, I’m drowning in tears but I have to tell you: Thank you for everything. I think I want to be a writer someday because you always encouraged me. I think I want to be a musician someday because of the pawnshop guitar you bought for me when I was 12. I know I want to understand history better & fight for justice always because of the work you did, helping our people.

Auntie, your arms have held me since I was a baby & today I am still a baby but now I’m holding you as you’re leaving & this is not fair, the sun is shining outside, these are days of endless beauty & it feels like life is beginning but these tears leave me speechless & we have so many stories to tell each other & Auntie, I want to keep hearing your voice, I want to keep hearing your laughter because that is the sound of god the sound of love the sound of creation –  

05/24/INFINITY: the sound of eternity is seeds returning to the soil. Auntie, I am learning to enjoy the timeline we share with the people we love, regardless of how long that time together lasts.  The love we share makes time feel infinite. Auntie, I am learning that we should leave behind a kingdom of heaven before we return to the soil. Auntie, love is an endless miracle and I see you everywhere. My heart is a shrine to you. 

– Kirbie Bennett

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