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What a Difference a Year Makes

It is currently 6:30am. Exactly one year ago on Wednesday July 6 I was oblivious to what turned out to be the absolute most horrific incident that has occurred in my life. Approximately eight hours after that time I found out that my son- my first-born child, my best friend and confidant- had been found dead in the water that he loved and protected for the nearly last six years of his life.

That moment of revelation changed my life forever.

It changed our relationship forever.

And it has reconstructed our mission beyond anything either of us ever imagined.

The past year has been wrought with lessons that I needed to learn from the onset in order to succeed on my end. It has been no mean feat embracing much of the information then working to weave it into knowledge; Creator willing, wisdom will come in time. While there have been sporadic or strong exhibitions of true comradery, there have been far more shows of treachery. Some experiences that come to mind as a write are:

  1. the number of people who claim to love my son and support me yet do very little to (most times) nothing at all to help fight for him, and what's even worst, fabricate outright lies in pursuit of gossip, wanting to seem in the know to their associates, or to divert others from the truth;

  2. the self-proclaimed friends and supporters who- from the very first day- embraced me in their arms and pretended to console me then spread lies and tasteless accusations about my son and myself;

  3. the (mostly) women who have attempted to shame me and weaponize my "grief" by charging that I am causing trouble by calling out those responsible for my son's murder because they are affiliated with the culprits;

  4. the amount of people who have exhibited discomfortable with my outspokenness, asking me to just 'let go and let God';

  5. those who claim to be activists, revolutionaries, and advocates for red and black people, as well as organizations such as governmental and actual MMIWPR (missing and murdered women/persons/relatives) groups that do not/cannot/will not help, and on at least one occasion, purposely gave false information;

  6. how prevalent clout and status chasing are within the Indigenous community, and how opt the majority is to not "cause a fuss" nor look threatening or other than pious stereotypes to "allies", governmental agencies, and even each other;

  7. how committed people are to their own ideas and beliefs even when they lack evidence and are proven baseless, and how they rather embrace the notion that even if a heinous Native on Native crime happen ed it is always in some way due to white oppression and validated fear.

These are overviews of only a handful of occurrences that I have encountered. It has certainly been challenging, frustrating, perhaps heart-wrenching at times. Attempting to grieve my son while also having door after door shut in my face as I search for help and some semblance of justice while also nurturing people in need through the organizations I have started in order to continue and expand his work, cement his legacy for generations to come is unlike anything I could have ever anticipated. And not knowing which well-wishing smiling faces are truly sincere makes it all so much heavier.

I often think about how alone my son must have been while fighting for people who stressed him so much that he developed chronic anxiety in his mid-twenties that caused very bad angina. Certainly, these behaviors are not specially made for me. A friend of mine who has served the people consistently for the past three decades reminded me recently that this work forces one into solitude, and that it comes with all the things that I have been experiencing as well as to what my son succumbed. It is a lot, but it is what must be done.

My son and I used to discuss and chuckle about how the Prophet Jonah/Yunus tried to get away from his mission because the people were awful to him and would not listen. He hopped on a boat to sail away from it all, but Creator caused the boat to overturn and Jonah/Yunus to be swallowed by a whale. He was put on a three-day time-out until he came to his senses then he was dropped back onto the shore by the whale so he could get back to the task he was given. My son and I both agreed that it was far better to do the work Creator assigned rather than run away and go through further hardship, just to be sent back to do what you were told the first time.

What I have ultimately learned this past year is that while my son is no longer on this plane, we are partnered in ways we never were before. Ways that we suspected were possible theoretically, but now that we are experiencing it, it makes perfect sense. No matter what comes my way- and it will continue coming- I have a job to do, and I will do it. If there was no chance of me succeeding, I would not have been made my son's successor. Muriyd Niishwak Akumahkwak Williams. True leader of the people.


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