Della and I standing in front of the Mulan community sign.
Nana and the cutest kid Kelti
Nana Veronica or as everyone calls her 'Lulu'
It's been a while since I wrote and I have had a lot to write about, but I haven't had a moorditj koort (strong heart).
I have had many loses this year and it's been young men in my family that have really rocked my family to its core.
The last death only a few months ago was my dear loving nephew only 32 years old. I grew up with him in Gnowangerup, on the same street and many times in the same house as he was raised by my Aunt and Uncle (his nan and pop) who was my Mum's (my grandmother but also my mother) oldest daughter and son-in-law. We were always around eachother and only four years apart. As we grew up and left the town we were raised in and moved to different places we always had the love and the connection...and often right up until the week before, we fondly reminisced about how we were raised with our elders and how our childhood was so much fun...running around the town, hanging out in bush and practically living at the swimming pool when it was open in the summer. I always looked to him as a little brother even though his mum is my cousin/sister, but then as we got older he became like a protector to me and all of our family. A strong man who would always stick up for anyone being wronged or disrespected. I could go on and on talking about him but the simple fact is i loved him so dearly and to have him taken from us, the way he was and in the prime of his life is something I'm still in physical pain over.
Having been raised in the country around my elders, i remember the funerals.
We as Aboriginal people hold attending funerals high in terms of respect for families, respect for our Aboriginal communities and our bloodlines.
Many of our family are buried in the one little corner of the Gnowangerup cemetery and this little corner has become a place of heartache and healing over the years as we visit and take flowers and clean up around the graves of our loved ones.
I remember how our people would cry, they would wail and wail. I can hear them now thinking about it. They would wail loudly and together and people would go out to it at times, with their grief. As a kid when I was old enough to start paying my respect it was sometimes overwhelming. And now it is something I am looking to do, to heal, to let it out and now I think i know, why we as a people need it.
With big families and so many cousin/brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles and nans and pops and the way we were all brought up together - we have the capacity to love so many and love we do...deeply.
I went to my nephews funeral, one that I never dreamed I would be standing at with the heaviness in my heart for the loss of him that I would never grow old with. For the pain my old uncle who raised him, for my sister his mother, for his father, for his kids, for his brothers and sisters and for our family and his dads family.
I was numb with grief, exhausted and I cried with everyone...but I came away feeling like I never mourned properly. I feel like I need to go back and scream, and wail for my nephew, wail for that great loss, wail till I can't stand anymore and let it all out, right there at his graveside. I came home and found myself crying daily at different times, sometimes so bad i couldnt breathe, but then if someone came over or my son came home at a time like this, i'd cap it so i didnt alarm anyone or freak anyone out. Sometimes i found myself getting to the point where my whole body and heart starts letting my grief take control but then i quickly become aware of where i am and that my neighbours might wonder whats going on and so on.
WHY dont we wail together anymore at funerals?
WHY are we going away with it all built up, back to places where its not 'appropriate' to wail?
WHY isnt it common anymore?
IS IT that we are embarrassed because no one wails anymore and we don't want to stand out? Think maybe, well if his mum or brother or sister not wailing then what gives me the right? Are we being too judgemental on ourselves and others? Is it just not a 'civilised' thing?
"you heard how she was crying, anyone think it was her kid"
"choo why she wailing, just want attention"
"she like she was going out to it"
"she want everyone to think she loved him the most" Is it any of these or can you tell me why?
I want to go and wail because we have had a great loss that will never be replaced. Because a link to our family chain is gone, to our Gnowangerup roots, to our childhood, to our youth, to our elders...I want to wail because he deserved us to let our spirits know how much we are in pain at his loss on earth, i want to wail to let it out in the place where our sorry business should be. Not at home alone back in the city or wherever we haved moved to, not when we hear a song on the radio whilst driving, not when we see something that reminds us of our loved one, even though we will still get sad I believe if our sorry business is done together how it used to be with our elders on our country then we are better able to deal with what comes our way after...I see the wisdom in the process of the old ways of sorry business, i see it now with my own healing process at the terrible losses that we have suffered this year. I am longing, I am aching to go home and wail at the foot the graves of the people who helped make me who i am. I feel it is my right and my responsibilty from my grandmother, my mother to cry proper way for the great losses to our blood.
YESTERDAY i was blessed with love.
I was in the very remote Mulan community in Western Australia.
Myself, Della Rae Morrison and Charley Caruso went for a walk in the morning to the art centre to see some of the ladies that came to see my play Fifty Shades of Black the night before. We sat around and yarned with these ladies named Veronica (an elder), Noonie and Karen. They were beautiful ladies sharing with us whilst we looked around at the beautiful art and telling us dreaming stories of their stunning country. After some time deciding on what art we had to have, and could afford, the other women left to pack up our stuff to head back to Balgo and I stayed because Noonie hadnt finished writing out their stories on the back of my paintings.
I was meant to stay as life is all about timing, the universe was taking care of me, i truly believe.
We talked of young deaths and shared about heartache and I shared my heartache about my nephew and my families pain. As I've been so busy I hadnt had much time to stop and reflect and sharing in a circle of love came easy and so did the tears. I had to stop as my heart was so heavy, I put my head down and sobbed, all the way on top of Australia from the bottom of Australia, with people that didn't know me apart from the night before and the few hours that day. It didnt seem to matter where I was, my chest was heaving and salty tears streaming when I felt a hand on my head. I looked up and it was Nana Veronica the elder holding me and crying with the other women, with me. Then they started to sing softly in their language a song that will stay with me forever, they sang and sang and sang...while I cried. Old girl or Nana Veronica touched me while they sang, she touched me, on my head, on my chest, on various places around my face and asked in language (whilst she explained to me at times in English) for the spirits to take away my worry, to make me stronger...they then changed tune that I recognised to be Amazing Grace in their Walmajarri language. Never had I heard anything more beautiful than these women touching me and singing to me and grieving for my loss with me. It was the most special moment, a gift from God, a gift from my ancestors, a gift from the angels watching over. These women, these strong women, they gave me love in a way that i never thought i'd experience, although it didn't shock me because i know how big the hearts are of our people, i know that our people give and give even when they got nothing to give they give their last. I wish all Non Aboriginal people could see the love and healing that i see of our people...especially the ones still living out on country, still practising Lore, still listening to the spirits. I hate many of the stereotypes of remote community people. Their knowledge and love is uncomparable. These ladies told me that grief will make me sick, that I need to be strong, to get strong, to let it go...these ladies touched my heart to the point that when old girl held me i felt like my mummy, may she rest in peace, was holding me and in a way she was like a mother to me then and there...all those women were, they mothered me, they nurtered me, they touched me, they loved me like I was one of there own...as long as I live I will NEVER forget that.
These women are hope, they are strength, they are love, they are the world and when I grow up (still growing up una) I want to be just like them.
It's all about timing una and believe me the universe really does take care of you if you open your heart.
Blessed and proud to be Aboriginal, we are one but we are many and from all the land we come...
Let us never lose touch with the things our elders left us with for the sake of what others think...we need to wail.
Travel, meet and experience these beautiful people in the remote parts of our country, part of the oldest living culture in the WORLD...they told me that they do a lot of healing in their country and happy for anyone to visit, they even gave me something to remind me in their words "they are there for me always and will always be there"...ALIWAH WOOLAH - BLESSED - THANKFUL - FOREVER GRATEFUL FOR A WONDERFUL LIFE...
This is dedicated to Regan, Ricky and Mark - 2013 a year we have lost that has changed us forever...may you rest in peace, forever in our hearts and to all our people who have lost someone they truly loved, I am thinking of you...be strong
Although I know many would want to to send their condolences, i know you will be thinking of love and light I didn't write this for that purpose...I more so wanted to share my experiences and ask what you think about our wailing traditional...
Thankyou for taking the time to read xo