By Aëdza:’niyo Seneca
Before this historical lock down began, I had battled with Anxiety. So, you can imagine my state of mind after watching the endless news updates on the Covid-19 Corona Virus. I was watching from a distance. As an empath, or a person who picks up on others energies, I felt the sadness and hopelessness of people on the television that I didn’t even know. I hadn’t even heard of any cases in our area yet.
It didn’t seem real. I remember joking as we prepared for the second half of our Maple ceremony, that only 50 people can attend. I joked that I was counting, but really I was counting how many people were in the Longhouse. The fear was becoming real to me.
School closed indefinitely, and the Seneca Nation had sent their staff home in the next week. We were able to go into the school and turn in our work packets and pick anything up that we needed. But I remember walking in and teachers were carrying things out like it was the end of the school year, telling me to take care. I honestly didn’t think we would be out of school for this long. Every little memory began to be like a piece of a puzzle, a big picture, this is real.
Sitting home those few weeks, I didn’t watch the television or listen to the radio. I read Facebook every now and then. But I disconnected from the world. My folks announced that they weren’t taking visitors and I was devastated. I was use to visiting them everyday, but I understood their concern.
Everyday that went by, there would be information going around about the number of new cases, and the number of deaths, it they seemed to be closer and closer in proximity. I noticed that I was sleeping more and didn’t have much of an appetite. It gave me comfort to read the supportive posts on a group page for the Sisterhood. I would feel better after talks with friends, but the fear still lingered.
On Easter morning, my mom needed to borrow something and asked if I could drop it off. I went over, wearing a mask, and she was waiting on the porch. She said “do you got a minute? Pa want to talk to you.” I immediately started to cry. I have been calling, but to actually see and talk to him was a gift at this point.
He said “I wanted to talk to you. It makes me sad how scared you are. You have to believe, you have to have faith. We have done everything we could in our ways. We have cleansed our homes. He have put Thunders through to cleanse the Earth and Water. We have requested that Hi’no’ strike to keep the fierce things underground. We have to believe.”
He said “The Creator has always taken people young and old in different ways. We are all given a certain amount of days. Nobody knows how many days we have. Your grandpa Mutt use to sing a song about being ready to leave this Earth. It was an old song, his grandpa use to sing it.” He began to sing it, trying to remember the words. He said “It says in there (the song) that we should be always be ready to leave this Earth.” By then, the tears were running down my face uncontrollably.
We are fortunate to have a tight knit community. We seem to come together when times get tough. It’s like we are woven together. We help each other, and we experience losses as a whole. So, my fear has not been so much about myself as it is about the safety of my community.
But, I can’t lose faith. I mean, I’m a Faithkeeper right? My friend Luke goes live on FB periodically and told a similar story of his grandmother. I heard an elder talk about respecting the virus, ‘it must have been in the plan to heal the Earth.” And I have noticed that the elders don’t seem as concerned and fearful as the younger generation. At first, I thought it was because they have been fortunate to life long lives. But now I see that they never lose faith.
So, every morning I give thanks that I am able to open my eyes. I thank the Creator, the Four Protectors and our Ancestors. I pray that my family, my community, my Haudenosaunee brothers and sisters, all indigenous people, and all human beings are well. And that if they should become ill, please be gentle with them. When I shower, I ask that the Creator wash away my fear and worries. And before I go to sleep, and thank them again for getting me through this day.
I’ve learned to appreciate the small things, like a sunny day, a nice walk, digging my hands in my garden, etc. I have learned to let things go. I have learned to importance of self-care, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Life will not be the same. I know I will still be hesitant and still use precautions long after this is over. But, I gotta have Faith.