Photo courtesy of Chris Krejca
Photo courtesy of Cyndy Ussing
Yesterday I was informed that a friend was sent to Anchorage due to worsening health conditions related to lung cancer. Last night her grown son, Ulric, and her two high school boys (Kash and Conor) flew to the city to be by her side. Today she passed away around noon, surrounded by family.
Lena was a strong woman. She taught at Chevak School for many years. In fact, she was supposed to retire at the end of next year. She was wife to Harry and she was mom to Angelique, Ulric, Casey, Cody, Kash, and Conor. She was friend and mentor to many.
Lena was our "steam" partner out here. She loved taking steams and it was an honor to be invited. This was a relaxing time. A time where often I sat listening, not doing too much talking. It was here where she shared her culture, her heart, and her friendship.
It is amazing to me that people can be put in your life for even for a short time and make such a difference. Lena has been a significant piece in my short time here in Chevak. I loved that she cared about who I am and where I come from. She was a good listener.
So much of her journey reminds me of my dad. I think I appreciated her even more because she let me talk about my dad. And she knew that was good and she gave me hope for longings that I hold in my heart. Lena had a lot of faith.
I feel so privileged to have been a part of her life, even if only for a short while. She will always be a part of my life. Taking steams and berry-picking will never again be the same. But, in them she will be remembered and honored.
The community of Chevak will mourn for they have lost a pillar in their community. I am glad that she no longer suffers, but my heart is heavy for her family and friends. Life is too short and those we value and love should know it while they are here.
This is the fourth funeral we have had in Chevak since August, and I can't quite explain the grieving and mourning here. But, I am really thankful to be a part of this community. I am on a journey and sometimes it is bittersweet.
Lena, thank you for our "steams;" thank you for sharing your culture with me.
I found the following link just a few minutes after posting this blog. Every bit of it is true.