A Familiar Place

by Greg Lincoln

This past weekend we took a trip back to our roots, to our home village of Toksook Bay. This trip was everything we wanted it to be: familiar, homey, comforting, relaxing, therapeutic. The anticipation of going back to our community, which holds a special place in our hearts, made us so happy. We would see all of our relatives and childhood friends, to connect with them again, to see what they are up to, and to see how things are like since our last trip.

And we did. It was like a reunion. And the memories came back like a flood.

We breathed in the fresh sea air and took long hikes up the mountains, walking along paths and trails that we have walked countless times before. And along the beach. Many times we had done this with our children during cross country practice, to pick berries, or just to walk to feel accomplished and satisfied.

Kelly and I visited the familiar landmarks that we love so much: the Thumb or Kumluq, the Stone People on top of Nialruq Mountain – which have now grown in strength and number, the cemetery where our loved ones are laid, and the beach. We even saw muskox grazing on the tundra.

Visiting our relatives in their homes brought back nostalgic memories. It was almost like we had never left, did you ever feel that feeling? And the food did more than satiate our hunger, it eased the craving for that deep need to taste our traditional Eskimo foods.

Everywhere we went folks greeted us with hugs and condolences because our daughter was their daughter too and she is loved with an everlasting cherishing love. We felt the sincerity in the embraces, the feeling of the other person not wanting to let go too soon, the compassionate tear-filled eyes, the kindness of their voices.

We are so blessed to live in such a welcoming place where folks take care of each other in times of need and sorrow. In empathy you felt and shared the pain of our loss. When pain is shared, it is so much easier to bear, thank you so much, it is unforgettable what you have done for us.

If you have a village and you have not gone back in a while, we encourage you to go if you can.

Quyana to my brothers and their wives and families for your generous sharing and for your words of comfort and care, you are always in our thoughts and prayers.

We are, as surely as time passes, nearing the one year mark of our great loss. A year? It is hard to comprehend, like another one of those strange things.

Thank you to all the local airlines for safe transport. It is an amazing sight to see the beauty of our homeland from the sky. Until we see you again, tua-i-ngunrituq.