Gift of the Valar - Chapter 9: The Magic of Memories
When Bilbo returned from his morning trip to the market, he checked the "boys", as he'd begun to think of them, and found Frodo sound asleep on his book. His face was paler than it had been when he'd left. Sam was busy writing his elvish sentences and hadn't appeared to notice that Frodo had dropped off to sleep.
"Sam" Bilbo whispered "is he all right then?" he asked, tilting his head towards the slumbering boy. Sam looked blankly at Bilbo "Well I guess so Sir, he does seem a mite tired and a bit sad today though..." Sam replied, hoping to get Mr. Bilbo to make some inquiries that he'd just have to answer.
Bilbo just walked up behind the sleeping hobbit and draped a blanket across his thin shoulders. "I shouldn't wonder that he's sad Sam, today's his Mum's birthday" Bilbo paused a long while, as if seeing her in a dream. He continued..."pretty lass she was, had the same blue eyes as this one...and spirit...my but she was always laughing she was. It was always easy for me to see why Drogo'd married her." Bilbo sighed heavily and ruffled Frodo's hair "yes, I can see why he's sad...."
Sam felt a tear come to his eye 'I'd best get home afore I spill it all' he thought to himself. "I'd best get home Mr. Bilbo....Da will be needing me to help with the chores...Mam's not been feeling too well herself these past few days." Sam said.
"Yes, of course Sam...wish your mother well and I'll tell the sleepyhead here that you'll see him for lessons tomorrow." Bilbo said quietly.
It was in fact quite a few days before Sam came back to Bag End for lessons. Sam's mother had been ill for a while, and poor Sam had not known how ill until she passed on a week later. Sam found his heart no longer troubled by the tales of his friend as he struggled to live with his own sadnesses. Each day was dreary and overwhelmed with a blackness that Sam felt would fill his days forever.
Frodo came down to #3 Bagshot row to see Sam as soon as it was deemed proper, and the snow had melted enough to allow him passage with his cane. Sam answered the door and found himself enveloped in Frodo's rather unsteady embrace. Frodo was pained to see how pale and tired Sam looked and urged him to come out for a brief walk. Sam looked to his Da and the Gaffer gave him a sad pat on the back "Off ye be lad, a little air would be a wonder to yer pale face."
Sam gulped hard and grabbing a cloak from the hook by the door, took off down the lane with Frodo. They walked and hobbled in silence for a while. They came to the hill near the mill and saw a group of giggling hobbit children dragging their sledges for an afternoon of fun.
Sam looked sadly upon the cheery faces in the distance and winced at their laughter. "How can there be such happiness when all seems so hopeless in me own life?" he asked in a lonely voice that broke Frodo's heart.
"Oh Sam, there will be many sad moments...but you will find a balance again." Frodo said, giving his friend's shoulder a brief squeeze "There will come a day when you'll suddenly realize that you've been happy for the tiniest of moments...and then you'll begin to see that the rest of your days will not be forever bleak and filled with darkness".
"What will I do without her?" Sam asked, his voice resonant with pain and fear " How can my life go on when she's....she's not here to be there for her 'littlest boy'?" Sam asked with tears in his eyes.
"Oh Sam" Frodo replied "she'll always be there for you....always in your memories...don't shut her out, keep her memories fresh....take them out each day as long as you need" Frodo paused and continued sadly...." yes, that will make it seem harder for a while, for right now....but it will ensure that she will be there for you when you really need her. Treasure her memories Sam and she'll be there...a part of your 'forever'."
Sam wiped the tears from his eyes "Is that what you did Mr. Frodo...is that what worked for you?" he asked
Frodo put his arm about the younger hobbit's shoulders and said sadly "Sam, I am unable to conjure up many memories....because I pushed mine away....everyone said 'be brave'....'don't cry' and 'it'll get easier'....well I wasn't brave and the only way it got easier is I forced myself to bury my memories so deep that I've lost them" he finished quietly. Frodo sighed "Don't be brave Sam...relish your sadness for it will burn her memories into your heart....don't follow the course set by my own misfortune...guide yourself to new trails....don't make the same mistake I have Sam" Frodo pleaded.
It was getting colder as the winter sun began to fade and Sam shivered. "Come my friend" Frodo said "lets' get you home....the next time we're standing in this spot perhaps we'll both be ready to get on with the events that will guide us to our future....not leave us mourning our past".
They walked, slowly back to Sam's hobbit hole. While Sam's darkness did not leave him that day or for many days thereafter, he looked to his friend and knew whatever else the future whould bring...their fates were linked as one.
The long dark days of winter were just beginning to hint that they might loosen their grip as Sam found himself finding a few happy moments now and again. In the midst of his times of darkness, just as Frodo had predicted, his memories of Mam became a comfort to him. He found new strength in the knowledge that these small moments of happiness would grow to light his way out of the darkness in his life.
As time went on Sam found himself worrying more and more about his Da. The Gaffer had taken to finishing up his days at the Green Dragon, sharing a few pints with any who would listen to tales of his beautiful Belle and their happy days together. Sam found himself thrust into the role of caretaker and provider as he struggled to keep the household afloat.
Sam did what work he could for the masters of Bag End, but found to make ends meet he frequently had to take in odd jobs from around the village. The weight of the world seemed to rest on his young shoulders.
One night, as he worked late into the night in the chilly confines of his gardening shed, fashioning tools for the new Smithy, he heard a knock upon the door. He opened the door to find Frodo standing there in the moonlight. Frodo didn't wait to be asked in, he entered and shut the door quickly behind him. By the flickering glow of the candle, Sam could see Frodo's face and could read the emotion there....Frodo was angry.
"Samwise Gamgee....what in the name of Arda are you doing up at this hour?" Without even stopping to hear his explanation Frodo continued "It's past midnight, it's freezing out here and you'll get yourself sick staying up all night like this!"
Without even saying a word Sam turned back to his task...he didn't know what to say....Frodo just didn't understand about things like money. Frodo walked to the bench "Sam" he said, the anger gone from his face...."if this is about money...why didn't you talk to me or to Bilbo?"
"What is it I'm surpopsed to say to yer?" Sam inquired "I can't do no more work in yer gardens till winters done and we needs the money...especially since Mam died" Sam voice trailed off sadly.
"Oh Sam, I've got some money put by...." Frodo started to say
"won't take no charity Mr. Frodo....thought you'd a known that about me by now." Sam finished gruffly.
"Sam, you are entirely too young to take on such a heavy burden" Frodo continued. "young or no Mr. Frodo....a family needs things Mr. Frodo and me Da...well... he hasn't been feeling well of late."
Frodo considered Sam's words, won't you let me speak with Bilbo about this...please....?" he entreated
Sam shook his head stubbornly. "I thought not" Frodo said as he stepped forward to the bench and took a tool in his slender hands. "Well, there's no help for it Sam....we shall have to work together to get your family out of this tight spot eh?"
"Now Mr. Frodo" Sam said "put that down afore ye hurt yerself or soil yer clothes...." Sam said " meaning no disrespect but this is my job....and what do yer know about fashioning tools anyway.?" he asked.
"First of all" Frodo replied " I'll not hurt myself, secondly I'm your friend and thirdly....when I lived at Brandy hall I was quite friendly with the smith there for a year, so I happen to know a lot about tools and such Sam Gamgee."
"Well" Sam muttered to himself "'tisn't proper like".
"Confound it Sam, have you not noticed how little I care what others think?" Frodo's voice had risen in annoyance, but softened. "If such things matter to you however, then we could work together at night and no one would be the wiser."
So, the two hobbits struck up a working partnership, spending several hours each night, after all of Hobbition was tucked away for the night, working Sam's odd jobs. They found they worked well together, and if Frodo seemed more tired during the days and his clothes more soiled than normal winter wear would normally have call for...well Bilbo kept silent. The elderly hobbit suspected that Frodo was helping his friend and was actually quite relieved. Bilbo knew how fiercely proud the Gamgee's were and had been trying to find a way himself to add to the Gaffer's pay packet.
Bilbo did his best to ensure that there were little bits of things that needed fixing and that they somehow found their way to Sam's nightime endeavors. In this way, in a matter of week....Sam's money troubles were lessoning and felt less the burden of trying to provide for his family.