So there I was, on the phone with my friend Daniel. Daniel is an old pal. He lives in southeastern Montana, a father of four, and he is Cheyenne.
If I’m being completely honest, I’m never sure what the appropriate term is; whether to call Daniel a Native American, an American Indian, or what.
Daniel clears things up with a laugh, “Just call me Cheyenne. It’s what I am.”
I dialed him yesterday so that I could get in touch with Daniel’s grandfather, who happened to be puttering around Daniel’s house.
When the elderly man got on the phone, his voice was soft, dry, and worn, like old leather.
“Hallo?” said the aged man.
I reintroduced myself.
“You’re who?” he said.
“You probably don’t remember meeting me, it was a long time ago.”
Then I asked the old man if he would do me a favor. I asked if he would recite a Native prayer I once heard him pray at a Presbyterian wedding when I was young. I asked him to offer a prayer of peace. For a friend.
“Peace,” he said
soberly. “Nanomónestôtse. Who is it that needs peace?”
So I told the elder all about it. I guess I might as well tell you, too.
My friend is named Tiffany. Although, technically, I’ve never met her. But then you don’t have to know someone to be their friend.
She is thirty-three years young, freckled, redheaded, and right now, she is located roughly 1,702 miles away from the old man’s Montana living room, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Right now her infant daughter is in the neonatal intensive care unit with meningitis. Tiffany, her husband, and family are living across the street from Erlanger Hospital in the Ronald McDonald House, trying to stay sane.
“Mmmmm,” said the Cheyenne man. “That poor family.”
The day Tiffany’s daughter was born went sour in a hurry. Not long after the glowing success of…