What would you do?

when a childhood friend has left

to find happiness in another world.

Traveled to the next life, praying for the real opportunity to live.

There are two waves that hit you.

The first comes in the form of a text message reading “he is gone”.

You feel shocked, numb, hurt.

Every childhood memory will come back to haunt you.

Moments, moments, moments now frozen in time.

You will analyze every hello and goodbye – looking for hints.

There is no way you could have known.

So, what do you do?

The second wave comes, and you are no longer shocked

but, you are angry.

Because this is the second death you have heard of this month from home,


Two young souls – lost.

Angry, but understanding

It is an epidemic. Silent and creeping, always heartbreaking.

But I don’t believe he took his own life.

He took the life that was plagued.

Born into an environment created for his death.

Where the easiest thing to obtain is a bottle of alcohol, or pills – you choose your poison.

Home was intertwined with heartbreak and poison,

so far gone that we accept this kind of living.

It is hard to catch because this place is also lonely.

Located in a desert of every kind,

geographic desert, food desert, a desert of mind.

He took that life.

Evil, desolate – reservation.

It is too close to home.

Because it came down to two decisions,

you choose life or you don’t.

In a society already influencing you to choose the latter,

supplying bottles over food – poison over healing.

Life does not look so appealing –


I hope you find happiness, love, and healing.

I pray that your heart is whole again.

I am not angry at death, because it lurks in the air we breathe.

I am angry that we have to be extraordinary to live normally.

You were not weak.

You were kind, loving, beautiful – and now missed.

You were a blessing to us.

Thank you for fighting this long,

for being a friend to me

for always hugging me when I saw you

for smiling, always.

Thank you.

Every time my phone rings, my heart stops because I am afraid to answer

To hear news of the passing of a childhood friend

a community member,

a young Native soul.

This seems to be the only news I receive from home.




So, what would you do?

What do I do?


Published by Shandiin Herrera

Diné, Duke University Alumna, Lead for America Hometown Fellow

One thought on “News

  1. I think about this all the time too. I have a hard time explaining this but you put it into this post that makes sense. Love you and your writing that unveils the truth. Home is a complicated place that despite everything I still love and we need to continue to be extrodinary so everything can change for the better.

    Liked by 1 person

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