When a family loses a child, it will changes their whole world. It has been nearly 10 years since my Takoja made her journey to the spirit world. Each year, the anniversary date of her passing is always a hard day, no matter how much time has gone by. Her birthday has also always been a difficult day; Takoja would have celebrated her fifteenth birthday on December 13. We still wonder what she would have grown up to be.
My Takoja died from Group A Strep, a totally treatable infection. Her death was 100% preventable. Still, the medical staff at Rosebud Hospital lacked the competency to detect the infection in time to save her life. Even when the physician’s assistant referred her case to a medical doctor, neither one of those so-called professionals believed she was sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. She was sent her home to die.
It doesn’t matter how your small child dies. When you lose a five or six year old child to death, it is always tragic. The pain is indescribable. We should not have to outlive our children and grandchildren. These little ones are gifted to us so we can learn from them. But sometimes the lessons they bring are the hardest ones of all. Seems like you never really recover from the death of a child, the sadness is always there.
There is always something which will remind me of our little girl. There’s a certain brand of candy, every time I see it in the store I think of her. Or seeing a child with an orange will make me remember how she taught her baby sisters to peel their oranges. Or listening to the radio and hearing a song she liked to sing along to. I can almost hear her voice.
I don’t even know what to write about last week’s massacre of all those little children. All I can say is I know how those parents, grandparents and families feel. I know the pain they face in the coming days, months and years. I remember the insomnia. I cried constantly. But the worst part of it all was dealing with the rage I felt at the injustice of her death.
The Lakota and other tribal people of Turtle Island have witnessed massacres similar to the one last week. Pictures of 19th century massacres are stark evidence that we’ve already seen groups of our children murdered by men behind big guns. I believe we carry these painful emotions in our genetic memory. The images are locked away in our DNA. Our ancestors knew what it was like to hear muffled gunshots when our people were murdered at Wounded Knee in 1890. The Hotchkiss guns could be heard all the way to the Pine Ridge Agency.
Anyway, the massacre in Connecticut could be a reminder to all of us to be sure our children are really safe. How many children will not want to go to school this week? And how many parents will not want to send their children to school ever again? I believe these are questions we all need to consider because no one can convince me that my Takoja are really safe at the schools they attend.
Sadly, a friend said something to me which really made sense. We take more precautions in making sure our money is secured than we do to safeguard our children. When you think about this it is true. How easy is it for someone to get into a bank and steal your money? Obviously, it is easier for someone to get into a school to murder a classroom full of children than it is for them to get into the bank to steal your money.
Another thing to consider is people who are locked up in jail or prison. How easy is it for a person armed with an automatic weapon to break into those facilities to shoot the people inside? Seems as though that would be a feat which would be nearly impossible; so why is that segment of our population supposedly safer than our children who attend school every day? Our priorities are obviously skewed.
What about our children on the Rez? I thought about our wakanyeja all weekend. I do not believe our children are safe anymore, especially not here on the Rez. Look at how many Lakota people have obviously made drinking, drugging or gambling the number one priority in their life. Our children really suffer.
Do you ever wonder about the children who are forced to live in a home where there are alcohol or drug parties on a regular basis? What about the children whom must ride in cars driven by drunk drivers? Some children live with pill snorting adults. What about the women who drink heavily throughout their pregnancy? How many of our children are sentenced to an entire life of fetal alcohol syndrome? These are regular occurrences here on the Rez and I really do not see anyone trying to put a stop to it. Our children are not safe, not at all.
So, while most people are feeling devastated over what happened in Connecticut, I believe we really need to start here at home to create a safer environment for our children. Nothing is going to change unless we begin living the changes ourselves. How will we help to make our Rez a safer place for our children to grow up?
We send our children off to schools everyday where they are terrorized by mean students or staff. The bully is in charge! SCHOOLS ARE NOT SAFE! It doesn’t matter where the school is either. Psychos with dangerous weapons can just stroll in anywhere and murder little children.
The pain of losing a child hurts forever. The families in Connecticut have my sympathy. I send my prayer to my Takoja on the other side to help those murdered children complete their spiritual journey.