Into The West

Singing. He heard singing. Not the mournful sounds that had wrapped around his heart or the longing melodies so woven amongst the fibers of his existence they resonated, and became the sound of his soul. No, those tunes he had sung, chants of loss, of grief, of despair while his time had worn on and his purpose wore out. What he heard was different. Almost forgotten, these were the psalms of Life; thought to be abandoned, these were the hymns of Light; believed to be ill recoverable, these were the anthems of the Eldar. Elrond, his raised voice joining the chorale of his brethren in blissful joy, passed into the Blessed Realm.

And he laid his burden down.

Light. He saw the light out over Mount Taniquetil, illuminating the emptiness he had ignored since leaving its warmth a Maiarian lifetime ago. Two lifetimes, he thought with a twinkle that was born originally from the Light he had despaired he would never look on again. So long, oh, so long, he groaned inwardly, had he walked with the Blackness beside him, he had feared his struggle with the Evil had blighted even his memory of the Light. Yet, as he beheld its glory, he understood the Light was never changing, the Light was never dimming, the Light never ceasing. And he had returned to its eternity. Gandalf stepped onto the White Shore.

And he laid his burden down.

Grass. He smelled grass. And trees. And flowers. And, bless him, dirt. He breathed in the living things around him, filling his lungs and bruised soul with the scents of home. He had lost himself in the Quest; pieces had been torn away from him that could not have been regained if he had remained in the Shire. But, here, here in this place that was the essence of life itself, he would have the time to heal and grow again. What had been cruelly taken from him would be reborn just as the fields of the Shire were blanketed with new life each year with the coming of the spring. The pains eased from his body and spirit as Frodo entered the Undying Lands.

And he laid his burden down.

Heartbeat. He felt it pound strong against his chest as arms enfolded him in an embrace he had anticipated for 62 years. His arms had held many things during those waiting years: wife, wee ones, grandbabies. Yet, in this embrace he was fulfilled. His memories of before, how he had held him as they played in the garden, laughed raising a mug, fought for their lives, struggled against the Ring, stumbled up Mt. Doom, triumphed over Evil, loved at the end of all things, bid farewell at the Grey Havens had sustained him while the days of his life passed him by. But, even though those remembrances were precious to him, he rejoiced as they all melted away into the one that burned across his heart, the one he was living right now as he held Frodo in his arms again. Sam had come home.

And his laid his burden down.

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