His brown fingers chased the edges of the drum as he spoke, tracing wide circles across the taught landscape of his instrument. Peering through gaps and wide spaces over shoulders, between arms and waists, I caught sight of his wife waiting patiently by his side, her long, black braid resting on the curve of her back.
“The beat of the drum calls to us because it reminds us of the sounds and comforts of our mother’s belly. The drum beat is our mother’s heartbeat and it calls us home.” He started to sing then, soft then loud, switching back and forth with the kind of ease that forces your eyes to close in appreciation. In the moments when he let his fingers pause and hang above the drum, I could hear my own heartbeat, loud and clear in my body. I’m not sure why, but when you’re on a lot of medication, your heartbeat is louder. Surround sound. For the first few months out the hospital, when my doses were much higher than now, it would pulse loudly in my ear, comforting me on one hand, but it was also incessant and fast. It rattled my nerves and kept me awake.
His wife sang next, in Cree I think, and then in English. Every once and a while they would look at each other and break out in a moment of spontaneous grinning before focusing out once again, him with his drum and she with her beautiful voice:
“And here I am, once again…”
That was last night, during the opening ceremony of a session I attended for work. Today my heart still beats for attention, cackling in my ear, not letting me forget how easily it could stop… any second now, if it really wanted to. Sometimes, before bed, I get caught up in the wild fear connected to the notion of my own mortality. Those kinds of thoughts don’t scare me the way they used to. Dark memories tend to scare me more.
Today the sky is bright with winter sunshine. Feathery gusts of snow drift off the trees and kiss my not-as-much-of-a-moon-face. The gentle breeze tousles the freshly grown layers of my hair. The air is fresh, clear in my lungs. I’m tired, but my breath goes deep, unhindered. It’s a good day. A good day to be home.
***Some of you may have noticed that I have replaced/erased some photos that I had posted with my blog posts. I have added a “page” to the top right hand corner of my site called “About the photos on this blog.” Please go there for a full explanation.