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The Gift

~ Corey Flood

  It’s been some time since I’ve felt like

writing, or felt I had anything left inside

me worth sharing. This story has deep

meaning for me. The urge is upon me

to share this. I hope I can write it with

the beauty it is for me. It’s funny the

way when your eyes and ears are fully

awake the messages you have been waiting for reveal themselves to you – brought by the greatest power- the power of Tunkasila- my creator whom I chose to call my Grandfather.

   I was working at a job that was physical- lifting- loading- unloading- constant motion which I truly enjoy. There were moments when the activity was so quick there was no time to try to lift anything safely. I’ve been physical most of my life. I was an athlete- body builder- power lifter- wrestled in high school- was a pitcher on our baseball team- basketball player- absolutely love the outdoors and going for long walks hoping something from the skies shows up. The proudest moment of my life was when I tried for a personal best in the bench press. I laid on the bench and unracked 405 lbs. and brought the bar down to my chest- paused- and then with brute force bench pressed the weight off me like it was 200 lbs. I would begin my work day at 7 am and at times I would work until 9 pm. The job at the time was my outlet, an outlet to release physical stress, sadness, and the emotions that I allowed too cloud my vision. I became a machine, and one driven by the need to erase the turmoil my life was in. The time I worked there I was lost. I had a deep sadness that I had recently lost the last 4 elders in my family- the hardest was losing my father. These losses happened within a year of each other. One by one they left the physical world and my heart could not shake the sadness. I was lost in direction, and sadly my spiritual connection was distant- it was never because of him- he shows himself to me daily- sometimes by the minute- I was the one who could not see and recognize. That’s why I love the outdoors and nature. There were many times I needed to feel the power and healing, and an eagle or hawk would appear, and my life would make sense again. If my eyes would have been open I would have surely known, but they weren’t and what follows you will understand fully.

   I was in a selfish and depressed state, and could not accept the loss of the physical presence of my dad and relatives, and because of that obsession to feel hurt and pitiful I allowed myself to slip on the ice falling from the back of a truck- 3 feet onto my left side with a 70 lb. box in my hand. My face struck first then my shoulder, and then my left arm, and then left leg. The strangest thing about all this is I saw this happen exactly like it did a second before I slipped. I saw the accident and I tried to stop the fall in my mind. I couldn’t. It may sound strange but I’ve been able to do this type of thing before, but the accident and damage became a most wonderful gift. The person who was supposed to be helping me saw me fall out of the corner of his eye, and he freaked out. He told me later he heard the snap of my forearm from 20 feet away. The left side of my face had gravel embedded in it, and my shoulder should have been looked at, and my left leg was bruised all the way down my leg. The only thing I couldn’t hide was the break in my arm that was severe. I went to the Emergency Room, and my forearm was broke diagonally in two places, and my wrist was shattered like a spider web. They didn’t cast it right away because the swelling was extreme- so they put a cast that looked like something Darth Vader would wear on it, and if the cast became too tight I could loosen it with the turn of a knob, or tighten it if it became too loose. I could not let my employer know the extent of the damage because I feared they would replace me or at the most lay me off. I needed that type of job to survive mentally.

   I look back on all of this and I know I would have done exactly what I did. I completed the same amount of work mostly alone again, and with my right arm eventually learning how to balance a load using my damaged arm. My boss would watch me and shake his head as he walked off. My employer knew how I worked, and that I preferred to work alone so there was never any need to ask someone who wouldn’t be a help to me to lighten the load- it wasn’t vanity on my part, but the need to sort my feelings out through physical strain- if I wouldn’t of been able to have this position I don’t know if I would have made it through this mental- fast approaching collapse. The period right before my father left physically we had several pictures taken together, and a couple were with me standing behind him as he sat in his chair, and he was holding the hand and arm that was now shattered. My father and I were extremely close. There’s a lot of us who are Lakota, and have had several male role models that took time out of their day to teach and share, and my father emptied himself too me before he left this phase on the ride to the hospital. That’s why the loss of him still all this time later- has me feeling alone- more alone than I thought a person could ever feel. I was with him when he went to the ER and then hospital, and then hospice, and then the afterlife. I was the last person he talked to. In the ambulance ride to the hospital he held the now damaged arm, and told me the things I always wanted to hear from the man who means so very much to me. My father would show me with actions, but what he shared with me with his words on that last ride completed everything I would ever want in life. Collins Richard Flood- Full blood Lakota man- was my hero, and is still to this day.

  There are many of us who get lost in self-pity, depression, sadness and loneliness and cannot, nor will ever allow themselves to heal. I had no choice it was now forced on me.  I saw a beautiful Red Tail hawk that visited me one day as I was taking a break just thinking about things. The next day an eagle landed on a light pole ten feet away, and in town-in town of all places,  and I could not hold on to this way of thinking and living one more day. They brought a message from my Dad, and that message rang clear. I had more from this man that many sadly will never have. I had his time….. I had his attention and I had his love. The arm that was damaged they told me I would have problems with tendons etc later on- I have more of these types of so called injury stories I could elaborate on – if I believed in the words of Doctors I wouldn’t be running, walking or using a leg they wanted to amputate- thankfully my Dad was there and knew I would heal myself.. That’s another story entirely. The arm he held onto in the ambulance- in pictures- in a couple of them he held not only my forearm but also wrist. I have a trunk with some of my most sacred and loving memories tucked away inside. I go through them from time to time because for me there’s a medicine with these objects I’ve never found anywhere else. I stumbled upon the pictures and a part of me came back, and then his words, and then he was in front of me for a flash of an instant. He always had a way of saying “My Son” that made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. I heard these words. I looked down at my arm and knew he was protecting me when he held my arm and forearm in those pictures, and that he also knew there’s many times I need to be shown things in my stubbornness. I know and understand now it’s time for me to erase totally from my thoughts, heart, and life all the self-imposed sadness I drug myself through, and all for nothing because I lost nothing- he is still with me, the break and injury was my wakeup call that enough was enough, and when facing life feeling like I’m alone- I look at this scar on my forearm and know my father loves me and is with me as I write this. I have beauty in my life- a life full of loving and very special memories- I was given so much I feel guilty for the special loving people who were given so little in this sometimes cruel world. Life is precious, and it’s always when I face almost total destruction- self-imposed destruction and get lost in sadness and lack of hope that my eyes refuse to see- that the power that has always been in front of me I finally embrace. My heart and tears go out for the ones who are suffering at this second, this minute, and this hour. In all ways I make you a promise things will get better- they will lighten- and they will most surely happen. I have many, many stories to share someday, and they always have the same ending- happiness. Toksa Ake my relatives.