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 delivery, Tiffany awoke from a nap to find that her daughter was not breathing.

The ordeal that followed was a mother’s private hell. Her baby was immediately whisked away by medical staffers, connected to a PICC line, attached to oxygen, and her daughter’s bloodstream was pumped with a cocktail of antibiotics, anti-seizure drugs, and complex medications with multi-syllable names nobody can pronounce.

“Oh, dear,” said the old man.

The support from Tiffany’s hometown, of course, has been pouring in by the freightload. The texts, the private messages, the phone calls, there have even been a scant few donations on a GoFundMe page. Half of Cherokee County, North Carolina, is praying for this family; the other half is busy cooking them church casseroles.

“And how is she holding up?” asked the Cheyenne elder. “This young mother?”

Well, as I say, I don’t know Tiffany personally. I’ve only heard about her. But what I’ve heard is that she is unflappable.

He stopped me.

“Un-what-able?”

“Unflappable.”

“Hmmmm. I do not know this word.”

It means that when the medical experts weren’t sure whether Tiffany’s child would recover, Tiffany STAYED sure. She was rebelliously sure. Defiantly sure. As only a redheaded mother of six can be.

“A mother of six?” the old man remarked. “This is a strong woman.”

She sure is. Tiffany has remained strong despite sleepless nights on cheap vinyl hospital furniture; strong in spite of a diet consisting of vending machine food and adrenaline.

She was brave as she listened to the doc use words like “coxsackievirus,” and “streptococcus pneumoniae.” She has prayed like a woman with her face on fire.

“Prayer,” said the old man. “Mmmm. Prayer is good.”

Prayer is more than good. The prayers are actually working. Recently, the doctors have said Tiffany’s daughter’s infection is subsiding. The swelling is lessening, and they say if things keep going like this—fingers crossed—Tiffany’s baby might be able to leave the hospital once she starts keeping food down.

“I can’t do anything but cry tears of joy,” Tiffany said. “There’s been one blessing after another. I just want to thank God for keeping my baby here… God is good.”

Even so, it’s been a long month, and meningitis is no day at the beach. I know this from personal experience. A few years ago my newborn niece had viral meningitis. We held vigil for weeks. Looking back, I realize that the one thing we lacked most in that cramped little hospital room was peace.

“Nanomónestôtse,” said the old man’s quiet voice. “Peace.”

If you’re ever fortunate enough to hear a prayer uttered in Cheyenne, you will remember it. Even over the phone, the timbre will strike you in the ribs, like the powerful tone of an ancient bell. In English the peace prayer is translated:

“Let us know peace.
“For as long as the moon shall rise,
“For as long as the rivers shall flow,
“For as long as the sun shall shine,
“For as long as the grass shall grow,
“Let us know peace.”

But when said in Cheyenne, it is music.

When the old man finished speaking, there was silence on the line. The old man finally asked the inevitable.

“Why me? Why did you call and choose to tell me about this family?”

“Because,” I told him. “The baby’s name is Cheyenne.”

I could almost hear him smile.

“It is a good name,” he said.

37 comments

  1. Nan - November 18, 2021 7:15 am

    Prayers for Cheyenne, peace for Tiffany.

    Reply
  2. Deborah Grimm - November 18, 2021 8:02 am

    I am praying for Peace for many families tonight. I will add Cheyenne and her family to my prayers. I was born and raised in Cheyenne, WY so they fit right in with the rest of the tough, resilient Cheyenne crowd. 🙏🙏🙏

    Reply
  3. Ed (Bear) - November 18, 2021 9:13 am

    Life has its problems. Thankfully, life also has good people and of course, God.

    Reply
  4. Mary - November 18, 2021 11:49 am

    Love and peace to Cheyenne and her family. Thank you for such pure Native American wisdom.

    Reply
    • Karen - November 18, 2021 2:28 pm

      Cheyenne , her family and medical team are in my prayers. The prayer of peace is tucked into my heart.

      Reply
  5. Susan Forte - November 18, 2021 12:02 pm

    The peace prayer is beautiful, and when you revealed the name of the child, it brought a smile to my face😊. Prayers for Cheyenne and her family🙏🙏

    Reply
  6. Tammy S. - November 18, 2021 12:51 pm

    Prayers for baby Cheyenne, for Mom & Dad, and the family and friends surrounding and supporting them. There is nothing quite as powerful as the prayers of a Momma! But all of ours can’t hurt.

    Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13

    Reply
  7. Brenda Haley - November 18, 2021 1:00 pm

    Just reading the English version of the prayer made me fill with something I cannot describe. Then, when you told us the baby’s name, I exhaled a deep sigh. Thank you for this story. Peace be with you and with that family you speak of.

    Reply
  8. Marianna Parker - November 18, 2021 1:11 pm

    That was a wonderful story. I am praying the baby continues to improve.

    Reply
  9. oldandblessed - November 18, 2021 1:48 pm

    Brother, your blogs have a comfortable, warm feeling about them. Thanks for the comfort.

    Reply
  10. Shelton A. - November 18, 2021 1:49 pm

    May God continue to bless and heal Tiffany’s little girl and give peace and comfort to the whole family standing watch. May the doctors continue their good work and little Cheyenne can go home soon to be with her family (6 kids, whew!).

    Reply
  11. Debbie g - November 18, 2021 2:26 pm

    Peace and love for Cheyenne too thanks Sean for sharing. Love to all 😘

    Reply
  12. Alan Jamison - November 18, 2021 2:40 pm

    I saw your post on FB this morning. Thank you for the follow-up Prayers for God’s peace and comfort.

    Reply
  13. Lydia - November 18, 2021 2:44 pm

    This is beautiful,Sean.Thank you for sharing.Peace to all.

    Reply
  14. Jan - November 18, 2021 2:47 pm

    Peace and love for Cheyenne and her precious family! And for Daniel, his grandfather and family. What a beautiful story and peace prayer! Thank you!

    Reply
  15. Nick - November 18, 2021 3:08 pm

    May the Peace of Christ, which passes all understanding, fill Tiffany, her family, and especially Cheyenne!!!

    Reply
  16. Stephanie - November 18, 2021 3:37 pm

    Praying for peace for Tiffany and her family, and strength for baby Cheyenne 🙏

    Reply
  17. Amy K Ray - November 18, 2021 3:39 pm

    Thank you Sean for telling their story – I’ve been able to find my own peace in praying for others, and I’m adding Tiffany and Cheyenne to my prayer list right now. You are truly an angel my friend

    Reply
  18. Annie Gillespie - November 18, 2021 3:54 pm

    Such a wonderfully heartfelt story! My prayer is that Baby Cheyenne recovered fully from meningitis! ❤️🙏

    Reply
  19. Cathy M - November 18, 2021 3:55 pm

    Wow! I am going to copy this beautiful peace prayer and I wish I could hear this wise man read it out loud. Sounds like things are better for baby Cheyenne. I will pray that she continues to get better and that her Mama gets to take her home. My youngest grandchild was in Nic U for a total of 12 weeks. It was a bumpy road with some dark days but because of prayers and so many wonderful Drs. And nurses, he made it and we will celebrate his fourth birthday in January. I will never forget all the friends and family who prayed fervently for him. Have a wonderful. Thanksgiving and thanks for this beautiful story. Peace be with you❤️🙏🏻

    Reply
  20. Steve McCaleb - November 18, 2021 3:58 pm

    Peace is an elusive thing in today’s world. May God bless all those who so desperately seek it.

    Reply
  21. Christina - November 18, 2021 4:12 pm

    It is a beautiful story of fierce love and interconnectedness.

    Reply
  22. Nancy Carnahan - November 18, 2021 4:17 pm

    My husband and I did a 30-state tour of America this past summer. We went through the Navaho Nation, the Hopi Reservation, the Zuni Reservation, the Cherokee Nation, and many more. Nowhere did we see signs saying “Native American.” They all said Indian. My great-grandfather’s tombstone says Cherokee. I’m good with Indian.
    Prayers for baby Cheyenne and her family from Northern California.

    Reply
  23. Stacey Patton - November 18, 2021 4:18 pm

    Baptist prayers just went up for Cheyenne. God hears us all, and prayer is the most powerful force on earth. Thanks for your beautiful writing, Sean. My husband and I enjoy it after breakfast.

    Reply
  24. Cecelia Arnold - November 18, 2021 5:09 pm

    Well, that makes two days this week you have made my cry. Good one, Sean.

    Reply
  25. paul mccutchen - November 18, 2021 5:11 pm

    She will be in my prayers.

    Reply
  26. Kit - November 18, 2021 6:09 pm

    They’re all good, but this one gave me chills — and joy.

    Reply
  27. Linda Moon - November 18, 2021 6:18 pm

    On the phone. I’m glad you two friends were actually talking to and hearing each other while on your telephone. There are no “smart” phones, you know, only smart brains that hold our actual thoughts and feelings. But I’ve digressed from the story here. I smiled when I read about Daniel’s grandfather’s voice. Some mist came into my eyes while reading the peace prayers and hearing the Cheyenne’s smile. Thank you for telling me about Tiffany…my thoughts and feelings are wonderful after reading “Peace”.

    Reply
  28. Tom Giddens - November 18, 2021 8:04 pm

    Prayers for Cheyenne, her mama and her family . Z

    Reply
  29. Dimitris - November 18, 2021 8:19 pm

    Prayers for little Cheyenne and her family… from faraway Chios Island, Greece.

    Reply
  30. Karen Snyder - November 18, 2021 9:12 pm

    💕 God works miracles every day. I, too, wish I could hear the Cheyenne elder say that prayer as he first learned it.

    Reply
  31. Kathy Grant - November 19, 2021 12:46 am

    I know this part of Montana very well; my inlaws live there and I used to work with many students at the schools in Ashland and Lame Deer.I could see the elder in my mind as I read your words. I add my prayer for peace and healing for this family. Amen

    Reply
  32. MAM - November 19, 2021 3:29 am

    Prayers for Cheyenne and her mom, Tiffany. May they have healing and peace. Thanks as always for a well-written lovely article, Sean. You give us wonder and peace with your words.

    Reply
  33. Apric73 - November 19, 2021 2:46 pm

    The gut punch of the name at the end! Geez, you’re good. Peace like a river…continually flowing, unstoppable!

    Reply
  34. Sandra Nelsen - November 20, 2021 2:29 am

    Just read this tonight. My niece’s three year old just had her third heart surgery today to remove the mitral valve that was put in seven weeks ago as her heart is in end stage failure. They took out the mitral valve today, and installed a VAD (ventricular assist Device) which she will need for four to six months to see if she can get healthy enough for a heart transplant. We are taking it one day at a time, as it is too overwhelming to look to far into the future.We pretty much know how Cheyenne’s family feels. Prayer helps. We’ll be praying for her. Wish I could hear that prayer in Cheyenne. It is nice in English. I’m going to share it with my family.

    Reply
  35. Nancy M - November 20, 2021 3:09 am

    Praying for Sandra’s great niece and for baby Cheyenne and Tiffany, and for the elder Cheyenne Indian gentleman who prayed. I wish you would write his prayer in the Cheyenne language and in English and send it to Tiffany, along with this column. She can tell baby Cheyenne all about it in years to come! Peace. Love.

    Reply
  36. Adrienne I Possenti - November 22, 2021 1:34 am

    Emily is almost 40 years-old now, but as a 7 week-old infant and just one day after receiving her first round of new- born immunizations she spiked a fever of 105. Over the phone, the pediatrician said her fever was a reaction to the immunization & to give her Tylenol. Within short order, Emily’s condition worsened. She screamed at the slightest touch. Finally a tap of Emily’s spinal cord revealed the results. The cloudy spinal fluid extracted meant she had meningicocal meningitis. If she were to survive, the doctors told us, we should expect her to be profoundly deaf, the usual long term result of meningitis in an infant. I willed Emily to survive by repeating the mantra, “You will live a long & happy life”. A visit and the prayers of a pastor of a local church brought us to promise God that in exchange for her healing, we would raise Emily up in this pastor’s church. One doesn’t take that kind of vow lightly. God fulfilled our request and we kept our end of the deal. Emily grew up among that local congregation, she continues to live a long & happy life and her hearing is perfect. : )

    Reply

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