“Drink! Come on baby open your mouth!” The distant voice told her what to do. Emily felt the cool liquid flowing over her tongue. Every pore craved to be quenched by the waterfall of her ancestors in the canyon below.
The fog in her mind gradually slipped away. “Jared? What happened?”
“You fainted. Drink.” She drank deeply, taking in her surroundings. The shade near the trail shielded her from the sun blazing its terracotta walls.
“Thanks.” Emily smiled, “I’m okay now.”
“It’s been a long time since you’ve been home. If I’d known this would happen … ” Jared squeezed her hand tighter.
Emily loved this handsome Navajo sitting in the dirt holding her. “I’m fine. Let’s get back on the trail. I want to go for a swim!” She watched the sparkle return to his eyes. His smile was brilliant even in the shade.
Looking past Jared, she spied Havasu Falls. Feelings long forgotten grew, tiny sparks feeding a fire spreading throughout her being. The sensation cooled upon hearing Havasu’s rushing water. She had left so long ago. Emily wondered about her people, the Havasu ‘Baaja. Jared, her childhood sweetheart was her connection with the past.
“Only outsiders faint from the heat!”
“I’ll never tell.” Jared rolled his eyes. “Ouch!” He yelped as she socked him in the arm.
“That’s for mocking me!”
Sobering, he caressed her palm. “Your people have missed you and you’ll never be an outsider, to me or to them.” He grasped her other hand firmly while taking a moment to pull her to her feet and to him. “Em, don’t ever scare me like that again.” Jared brushed her forehead with his lips.
“Well, if the Supai’s Chief is going to bless our union we better get moving.” She brushed the red dust from her jeans. “Okay, another swig of water and I’m ready to go!”
“You’re doing great! We’ll be there soon, you’ll see.”
“Jared, did you feel something when you saw the Falls? I was on fire for a minute … am I getting heat stroke?” She touched her forehead with the back of her hand.
He chuckled, “I’m sure it’s Father’s way of leading you back to the heart of your people. That’s why it’s so important to me, Em. The ceremony is a blessing on our union, enhancing our love and devotion for each other. We married in the chapel. Next will be the tribal blessing.”
Taking his hand, Emily followed Jared down the trail as the sun started to set. It was already cooler. She could hear voices in the distance.
The sound of Havasu Falls sang, its rushing waters mingling with voices as the Havasu ‘Baaja gathered together to welcome Emily and Jared. Familiar people drew near smiling and singing a song of joy. They had made it!
Jared’s father hugged him handing him his ceremonial saddle. Turning, Emily gasped, “Mom! Where did you come from?”
“Hush sweetie. Enjoy your moment! Here’s a traditional basket of corn meal mush. Carry it into the wedding Hogan. Jared must enter first.” Jared winked at Emily as they parted. He proceeded to the south around the fire pit.
“Emily you are the child of my heart. Go to your husband.” She hugged Emily giving her a nudge forward.
Loved ones nodded approval as she looked into the Elders’ eyes. Emily joined Jared as he eased the saddle to the ground. The ceremony included cleansing each other’s hands as well as feeding the corn mush to each other. Her uncle stood before them. Emily’s heart sang. He was now the leader of her tribe.
“Jared and Emily, please light the fire.”
They held a candle to the campfire lighting it together. “That fire should not go out. We welcome Emily who has returned to us. The two of you now have a fire that represents love, understanding and a philosophy of life. It will give you heat, food, warmth and happiness. The new fire represents a new beginning – a new family. You should stay together. You have lit the fire for life, until old age separates you.” A Havasu ‘Baaya cheer went up to the heavens.
The light danced in Emily’s eyes as she gazed into Jared’s. Peace settled into her heart. The tribe parted as they left the Hogan to attend a wedding feast at the foot of Havasu Falls.
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