Event #251: Early Saturday AM: Sept. 24, 2011

The next night was Friday night, 9/23, and we had an obligation we couldn’t get out of. We attended with heavy hearts and kept a brave face throughout the evening, but both went to bed miserable. Luckily, we were exhausted, because I doubt either of us would have slept otherwise. About 3 or so in the morning, I awoke to Bob ‘rolling’ out of bed. I say rolling, because when his back is bothering him, rather than get out of bed normally he kind of rolls out, and then straightens up slowly after his feet are on the floor. He groaned a couple of times too, or kind of grunted. I rolled over to look at him, he was kind of kneeling on the floor next to the bed and grunted again. I rolled closer to see up close, and to ask him if he was alright. He didn’t answer, just more sort of unintelligible grunts. His left hand was up to his forehead, the elbow propped on a knee, and his right hand on his right ear, or at least the right side of his head. I thought, briefly, did the phone ring, and I didn’t hear it? Is he responding to someone on the phone? But the telephone was in its cradle on his bedside table. “Gheean” said Bob. I thought he was talking then to our brother in law “Gene”, and I looked for the light of a cell phone, knowing he does not bring that up to the bedroom. “Who are you talking to?”, I inquire — but almost as soon as I say this, I realize that Bob is not here. I mean he is here on the floor in the bedroom, but he is “gone” – gone there, and the sounds he is making, the talking he is doing is “there”. I can hear him – and his voice is audible here, but it’s clear to me that he is there. How was this clear? He was speaking Lenape – it suddenly became clear to me – fluent Lenape  —  and at the point this realization comes over me, an entire phrase in Lenape comes out of Bob’s mouth, not even sounding like Bob’s voice, perfect Lenape language, the way I’ve come to understand it, with the perfect Lenape inflection.

“Wtëlinàmën” – I’m pretty sure is what I heard, and again:
“wtëlinàmën”

I could also tell that whatever Bob was witnessing there was getting him really upset, and witnessing this, I was getting upset as well. I had the sense it might have something to do with Duke. He was drawing in his breath sharply, sighing deeply as he let it out. Then all of a sudden, Bob goes completely limp, and collapses to the floor. He’s now laying on the floor by the bed, barely breathing, and I put my hand on him to make sure he still was. I was greatly torn between shaking him back to “here”, or leaving him alone. I can only imagine what is going on “there” and I did not want to interrupt the process in the hopes that maybe he was being shown where our Duke was, maybe having an encounter with him. Then, before I’m forced to do something, he slowly, almost like it’s causing him great pain to do so, gets up to kneeling again, and there are more fluent Lenape words.  I realize in a short while, because his breathing has somewhat changed that now he is “back”. Back fully conscious in the bedroom. I was in tears. “Did you see him”?? I croaked out in a choking voice, asking about Duke and hoping beyond hope that he’d been able to see where our Duke went.

“No.”
“Then what, what was it?”
“It was bad – I can’t talk about it, I just want to go back to sleep.”
“But what about Duke, did you learn anything?” As much as Bob clearly didn’t want to talk about what had just happened, it was going to be impossible for me to just turn over and go back to sleep.
“No. Nothing about Duke. It was about the tëme – the wolf.”
“What – what about them?”
Slowly, chokingly, the words coming out with great difficulty, Bob said, “Not them. Him. Only the male. He’s dead. Nuttah showed me the grave.”

Hearing this, all the horror and sadness of what had happened Thursday with Duke was welling up in me, and now it seemed like it was not even just Duke.
“When!? What happened to him?”
“She said 2 days ago, he just laid down, and he died.”
“Oh my God, I killed both of them!” I was almost hysterical now, I couldn’t believe this horrible outcome. Two days ago was when Duke had left us and I was there with the vet, and I was responsible.
Bob tried to console me that it was not my fault and that they did not hold it against us, but it didn’t work. The guilt, the sorrow, the horror that welled up in me was unbelievable. Now it was not just Duke gone from us, but the Papa-Wolf, the father of the 3 new young pups, and the mate of the Mama-wolf. I have never met the wolves, the tëme; I’ve never yet “gone there”, but the stories Bob has told me of them are as real to me as if they are pets. And I know how much they mean to Bob, meant to Kitchi, and mean to the tribe. This outcome was just too much to bear, compounded with the loss of Duke. How could this happen? How were they linked? Are they the same animal? Too many questions to ponder, unanswerable questions. I don’t know that we’ll ever answer these questions. I couldn’t sleep after this. I laid awake inconsolable ’til after 6 am, unable to cry anymore, and miserable beyond belief, trying to distract myself listening to the radio. Bob was awake most of this time too, but we were both too sad, distraught, and tired to talk about it anymore.

The next morning, unslept and feeling raw, I looked up the one clear memorable Lenape phrase that I’d heard Bob say: “wtëlinàmën?”
“What happened to him?” is how it translates. There is no clear answer yet to that question.

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