When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p 64
THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF WHAT I WANT ONCE MORE.
from the exquisite poet. Eckermann.
My nana opens windows
And gently tells
Ali Cobby Eckermann
There you go then. Suddenly some surprise good things happened from my defeated state. My girls popped in with food and coffee. I cancelled both Doctors. 2 Urunga women came a-visiting. One brought me a piece of art she had just made and the other I have known since she was a girl and we talked of many things. She told me that I was very well loved in Urunga especially by the children I taught and their families. They also told me that they loved me and wished I would come back. What a surprise visit that was.
So much of the time, I feel like such a failure.
So often I spend time wondering about whether I have got it all wrong over my lifetime. Abandoned.
She told me also that I was indeed there for my parents all the time.
The other girls, the Artist , she calls me Mii-Mii which I love. Grandmother. A few weeks back she gave me a delicate piece of pottery that she had made.
And then I went shopping at the GreenGrocer in town. Freshly baked rice puddings were in and lasagne and Worts Organic Soft drink. My favourite.
I still see no solution to what I am unhappy with but the day came down a wrapping me up in good things.
Now I have had a short call from Arkue and I am tucked into this Den of Mine. Comfortably fed.
When Aboriginal people mourn the loss of a family member they follow Aboriginal death ceremonies, or ‘sorry business’. Aunty Margaret Parker from the Punjima people in north-west Western Australia describes what happens in an Aboriginal community when someone dies.
Sorry business is not only mourning a deceased person but also the loss of family members due to imprisonment, drugs or alcohol. Illustration: 
“A cultural practice of our people of great importance relates to our attitude to death in our families. Like when we have someone passed away in our families and not even our own close families, the family belongs to us all, you know. The whole community gets together and shares that sorrow within the whole community.”
“It don’t have to be a close family. We say it is close because of our kinship ties and that means it’s family. We all get together till that funeral, till we put that person away. So every time someone comes into town whom we haven’t seen, that could be two or three days after we get the bad news, we all get together and meet that person, we have to drop what we’re doing and get together.”
“We have to cry, in sorrow, share our grief by crying and that’s how we break that [grief], by sharing together as a community. This is an important aspect of our culture. And this is how we are brought up. I see it is lacking in a lot of other towns where we go. We go there to meet people and to share our sorrows and the white way of living in the town is breaking our culture.”
2 PELICANSMy friend was at the A & E, he wasn’t feeling good
I was at the barbecue, just like he said I should.
The phone call from the hospital shocks me with fear and fright –
‘You better come to ICU, he might not make it through the night.’
I stand silent at his bedside, he looks so dead already,
I try comforting his children as their lives become unsteady.
‘Please don’t go away,’ I whisper. ‘Don’t leave us behind.’
I pray then to my Ancestors, I ask them for a sign.
We sit all night like statues, on each side of his bed,
The thought of losing him is really fucking with my head!
The nursing staff fuss round with looks of deep regret.
But I was waiting for a sign that he won’t leave us yet.
The morning light creeps slowly across red desert sand
His eyelids flicker open and he fumbles for my hand.
‘Hello,’ he whispers, ‘how are you?’ and then falls back to sleep
My eyes stare at the monitors, the bips, the dots, the beeps.
‘He’s out of danger,’ the doctor says, ‘you should get some rest.’
And as I walked along Gap Road I look out to the west
2 pelicans fly overhead, floating on the breeze,
‘It’s the sign,’ I cry and thank the Spirits watching over me.
I return to the hospital, he is much stronger now
And the nursing staff all smiling as they too wonder how?
I share the story of the sign, the pelicans in the sky
We hold each others hands and smiles are in our eyes.
I drive out to Amoonguna to tell family he is right
I sit down with his Aunty, round the campfire, in the night
I ask her to explain the pelicans and the meaning of the sign
She laughs and whispers, ‘Arrangkwe just 2 pelicans in the sky!’
Poet’s Note: arrangkwe – (arrente word) means no, nothing, no-one