Contributor: Tess Pfeifle
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People always strive to return home, but it is harder for some. The wish to return to one's homeland is a natural and inescapable feeling. Without a home one is doomed to wander aimlessly, with no real direction, no driving force. Leaving home for a different country is more often than not a huge undertaking. The cultural confusion often drives the new comers to madness. This often leads to a harsh break with their old culture, in hopes to assimilate to the new culture. When one leaves their home,they soon come to the relization that they have to come back...eventually.

My brother, Kian left Ireland when I was very young. We lived in Sligo, a beautiful small town, near the Rosses Point beach. Our happy clan consisted of my brother, my mother, my father and I. Sadly, our family was broken up when Kian decided to become a man. Kian and I shared a special kinship that only growing up in Ireland can bestow. Despite our age difference of eight years we spent a lot of time together. He showed me the hollows where the Sidheog dwelled and told me of their king. The King of the Faeries named Finvarra, Kian always warned me that he stole pretty little girls like me, for brides. Kian pointed out the jagged rocks strewn precariously along the coast, where the Selkies sat on warm rocks and confused the captains of ships with their haunting songs. Kian always made sure I never looked to the left while travelling, for fear I might see two magpies and fall upon very bad luck.

When Kian was eighteen he left for American and we never saw his ruddy irish cheeks glow with lively color again. He lived there for many years, sent us postcards and eventually called when he could afford it. Kian sent us money and gifts on holidays but he never gave us what really wanted, to see him again. Kian married a woman named Anna that he had met in America, she was an accounant. Kian sent us glossy pictures from the wedding. His bride carried lilac and kept her bridal boquet in their house. How Kian could ever let her do this was beyond me, every good irishman worth his weight in salt knew never to bring lilac into the house. Their marriage was bad luck to begin with, not to mention, they were married in May, the worst month to get married according to irish lore. Kian and his wife eventually had two children, a girl and a boy. Our mother was devastated when she learned their names, Tyler Collin and Lily Aileen. Their Irish heritage hidden amongst their middle names. He called often, we called back to talk about our seperate lives. I heard his voice lose the irish brogue he spent eighteen years gathering with every passing year.

Kian had a sudden heart attack and died, he was too young. Kian was barely fifty and my family was completely surprised. We flew over for his funeral, met his American wife with her black pantsuit and black eyes and two children covered with a smattering of freckles and good intentions, proving they were our kin. We talked with them, Mother and Father did not cry though, and neither did I. Kian had been dead long ago to us, just a ghost that could write and talk. We watched his American friends and family bury him behind a stone church with huge green doors. At least it was Catholic, at least they did that much for him, for his long ignored heritage.

We returned home and felt a sting from the empty mailbox and the phone that sat in silence. One day, barely a month after the funeral there was a knock at my parents door. My husband Carrick and I had come for dinner as was a tradition on Sunday’s. I got up from the table, making sure my chair did not tumble over as I stood up, a tell-tale sign of bad luck. I opened the door and there stood Kian, his skin pallid, when he opened his mouth I could smell the rot. His eyes were glazed over and his hair still had dirt in it. I kissed him on the cheek, we had been expecting him, it took it him a longer than we thought to arrive I lead him upstairs to his old room, white and blue and laid him on the bed facing north. In the morning we would bury him in the grave we already had dug for him before we went to the funeral in America. People always return home, as a final resting place, even if they have been gone quite a long time.

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Irish belief: The dead of Ireland won’t be settled until they are buried in Ireland.
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