With Shiprock mountain to his back, Cyrus stood unsteadily, and watched the sun melting away in the sky. He had insisted that the two men help him to his feet. Dwayne was unsure, but it appeared that Cyrus was now blind. He did not appear to be cognizant of where they were, or why they were there. The sky was ablaze with color. There were brilliant yellow hues, with flashing burning orange against a fading blue back drop. The warmth of the sun felt good on the face of the old man. There was nothing quite like the warmth of the sun. Cyrus could still see. He had not said anything of course to the young men, but Cyrus could feel the coldness of death creeping ever closer. He felt weary in his bones. His time was close now. He knew that not many people had the opportunity to choose where they would die, so Cyrus felt grateful that he had decided upon, and arrived to this sacred place of such beauty. The old man sat propped up on his pallet now, alone with the last of his thoughts, his emotions slowly seeping into the earth. Dwayne stood up and left Sonny Ray so that he could go and sit with Cyrus. Dwayne kneeled down next to the old man. Cyrus weakly offered his hand. Dwayne squeezed his hand gently, acknowledging the deep affection he had for this man. “I am proud to have seen you grow up into a fine young man,” Cyrus said softly. Dwayne glanced over at Sonny Ray sitting near the small fire. “Cyrus I cannot express all the things that are in my heart, but I want you to know how much I appreciate how you looked after me after mom and dad were killed.” Dwayne faltered, a silent tear streaming down his cheek. “I will always cherish your words, your kindness, your love, your wisdom, I…” Dwayne could not contain himself any further as he began to shake in sorrow. He hung his head down, unable to speak. Cyrus squeezed the hand of Dwayne with what fading strength he had left to offer. “I have but a short time left on this earth, and as I prepare to taste the bitter pill, I must say that though the journey at times was a very difficult one, there were many good things that i enjoyed Never forget to seek the good things, things of value, the things that don’t fade with time. Never forget your Creator. It is He that will watch over you during your journey of this life.” The old man closed his eyes, and began to drift back between the sleep world of death, and the dreams of life that were fading fast. “I love you Cyrus.” “I love you too Dwayne,” Cyrus said, spent now. Dwayne stood slowly. He looked down at Cyrus, unsure if there was anything left to say in this moment. Dwayne brushed away his tears, and attempted to sniff his sorrow back into his heart. After adjusting his hat, he walked back slowly to the fire. Sonny Ray was placing more wood atop the fire, as embers from the coals shot up briefly into the night sky. Dwayne sat down in his chair. Tears rolled noiselessly down his cheeks. Sonny Ray gave his friend some space, waiting for the wave of emotions to break over the reef of Dwayne Notah’s grief. Sonny Ray waited. Dwayne began to regain his composure. “You all right?” Sonny Ray asked, almost in a whisper. “Yeah,” Dwayne offered. Sonny Ray poured some coffee as the two men continued their vigil. High atop Shiprock mountain, the solitary black eagle sat, observing the three men from afar.
It had sat perched upon a wing of the sacred mountain. It leapt from the ancient wing of the mountain, and began it’s descent to articulate a better view of the goings on of the men below. A sliver of the moon began to rise. It had no knowledge of who would live or die this night. It did not matter to the moon. This celestial planet shed its light upon the world, upon this life, one that fades all too quickly like the dawn. The next few hours passed slowly. The stars too shed their light upon the vastness of this ageless land, as the men continued to watch, and to wait. Sonny Ray placed a few more pieces of wood on the fire. He glanced at his watch. It was 4:00 am . He stood to shake the stiffness from his legs. There was a chill in the air. Dwayne sat at the fire with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. Cyrus lay resting near to the fire. Sonny Ray walked over to where Cyrus lay. He pulled up the old man’s blanket up a little. Cyrus had been sleeping peacefully for the last couple of hours. Sonny Ray knelt down next to the dying man who was his biological father. In the dim light he could see that Cyrus was still breathing. He stared intently into the face of the sleeping Cyrus. Sonny Ray began to reflect on why Cyrus waited so long to tell him that he was his father. He knew his mother played a large role in this whole ridiculous affair. “His mom, shit,” Sonny Ray whispered to himself. Perhaps though Cyrus stayed away as long as he could, unsure that Sonny Ray could handle, and or even accept this lifetime responsibility of the black eagle. As it was, Sonny Ray was not convinced that he himself could handle what was being asked of him at this moment. But here he was. Sonny Ray was about to go get another cup of coffee when the old man opened his eyes. “Hey Cyrus.” “Hello my son..I know you have many questions, and I am truly sorry that I will not be here to answer them for you. Do not be anxious over the things concerning the black eagle. Give me a drink of water,” Cyrus said, licking his lips. Sonny Ray helped Cyrus sit up a little. “Thank you.” Sonny Ray nodded, trying to smile bravely now. Cyrus took another drink of water. Cyrus continued. “I know you are angry at your mother, and at me as well. You may never fully understand all the reasons for the things your mother and I decided upon many years ago. I hope that you can forgive us someday.” Sonny Ray nodded in acknowledgement. “You have a fine family. Take care of the ones who love you most. Never forget that.” Cyrus was having a difficult time breathing. “Go get Dwayne.” Sonny Ray had tears in his eyes. The quarter moon had not yet made it’s rotation complete, and hung in the sky, like the sail of an ancient hawaiian sailing canoe that was fading on the horizon in search of a new world in which to live. The two men knelt on either side of Cyrus. The wind swirled causing the fire to throw shards of burning coals upward, into the dark blue black of morning. The moon lingered in the sky like a promise. “The life that we live now is one where much value is placed on what you possess. It was not always this way. The old man’s breathing was ragged now. “As you live your lives, try to reach beyond what you can see, touch, feel. Search for unnoticed things. If you do then you will understand to where the black eagle flies. Look,” the old man said, fadingly emphatic as he pointed with a weary finger. The two men turned to see what Cyrus was pointing to. They had not noticed that his arm had fell to his side. Sonny Ray was finally
the first to notice. “Dwayne.” He looked down now too. The old man’s eyes were open, as he appeared to be searching the horizon. Cyrus had gone his way. Dwayne placed his hand over his own eyes and began to weep. Sonny Ray was numb. It had only been two weeks ago that he and his siblings had been standing in a cold sterilized room in the ICU, fixated on an EKG monitor like it was the big ball counting down in Times Square, on New Year’s Eve. Time moved in slow motion that day, as they watched their father fade away from this life, in the white horizontal lines of destiny. Now Sonny Ray was here. Dwayne continued to hold onto the old man’s hand as he sobbed uncontrollably. Sonny Ray looked into the now vacant eyes of Cyrus. “Goodbye Cyrus. Thank you. You never forgot about me, you kept pictures of me. Thanks for never giving up. I will do my best with your black eagle. Or perhaps it will do it’s best with me.
Malama pono on your journey.”
Sonny Ray gently closed his the old man’s eyes. It set off a flashpoint of emotions in both of the men. They sat upon the ground for perhaps an hour, watching over the old man, not wanting to give him up. The sun opened its eyes, and began to look upon the world. It too, was not concerned with who lived, and who died. And it too, will always be.