The Spirit Wife

The Spirit WifeThe Spirit Wife

Zuni

Once there was a couple who loved each other very much, but the wife died. He sat beside her grave until night when her spirit arose. She said she was simply going to a new life, but the husband wanted to go with her. He had to tie a red plume to her hair because she would disappear during the day.

He followed her. They walked and walked and walked, for days, over long distances. The man became very tired. He even had to shout out to his wife to wait. The red plume would seemingly stop in thin air and wait for him.

After some time, the couple came to a chasm. The wife walked right out into thin air, as she was a spirit and the husband almost followed, but there was squirrel there who said he would help the husband. He planted a seed, which grew and grew, until it stretched across the chasm. The husband was able to cross.

The couple then came to a lake, which the wife descended into, but the husband could not go there. He knew his wife was at the bottom of the lake, but there was no way for him to get there. An owl came by and asked him why he was weeping. The husband told the owl that his wife was down at the bottom of the lake and he could not get to her. The owl took the husband to his home. While there the owl gave the husband some medicine, but told him that he must be patient. The husband promised to be patient. The man would follow a path and stay there, when he awoke, his wife would be there. The husband must then lead his wife back to the village of his birth, without touching her; she would be able to stay if he accomplished this.

The husband fell asleep at the appointed spot. The owls flew down and got the spirit of the wife. When the man awoke the wife was there. They started their long journey back home. The wife became tired and asked to rest. When she went to sleep, the man could not resist reaching out to touch her, even though he knew better. The wife awoke suddenly and scolded the husband. She said he did not love her enough, otherwise he could have waited. Right before his eyes, the wife began to fade until she was gone. The man was alone. If he had just had some patience he would have gotten his life back, but everyone cannot live forever and death is necessary.

Observations

It’s awfully sad when one part of a couple dies. It’s like half of something just went away.

Themes

If someone tells you to be patient, it’s probably for a reason. Being patient is incredibly difficult sometimes. I have grown to be quite patient over the years and easy-going, but it’s not always easy, especially when it’s something we feel we should have or deserve.

The part of this story that sticks with me is the wife telling her husband that if he loved her enough he would have refrained from touching her. The husband was impatient to have his wife, to be in her presence. He didn’t necessarily take her into consideration during any of this. He could have let her go on to the next life and have been done with it, instead, he got her back from the spirit world, only to to ruin that chance by being impatient, by wanting to satisfy his need to physically touch her. The wife didn’t need the husband to touch her, nor did she actually need to go on a journey back to her village.

Sometimes we can be selfish with the ones we love. We often think about what that person gives to us, rather than what that person can have without us. Sure, being separated from death is a terrible blow to a relationship, but if your spouse gets to go to heaven, Valhalla, Mt. Olympus, or even be reincarnated as a cat that they’ve always wanted to be, why are you standing in their way? Why would you keep them from something that was more wonderful than their Earthly existence ever was? Sometimes, if you love someone, you let them go. It’s an over-said phrase, but it’s completely true. Sometimes what’s best for another person is to be out of your presence, for whatever reason– death, school, mental health, abuse, and so on.

I get that this guy was sad, and clingy, but the wife could have so much more without him at this point.

Overall

I kind of feel bad for both of them.

Weigh In

If you could get a loved one back from heaven, would you?

Do you think the husband was selfish, or just incredibly lonely?

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