Faramir slowly walked out of Eowyn’s bedroom. He took of his glasses and slipped them into their case.
“What is it?” Merry asked.
“She has a disease called tuberculosis. It is common in the Shire. I will have to do more research, but I will let you know more as soon as I can. Eowyn is sleeping. Good day Uncle.”
“Good day, Faramir. Merry watched Faramir walked away.
He silently walked into their bedroom. Eowyn was nestled against the pillows. She looked so…vulnerable. Her hair was going every which way. Merry gently brushed a few strans away from her face. Merry sat in the chair beside the bed and watched his wife sleep.
She was so precious to him, the love of his life. There had been other lasses before he met Eowyn, most notably Estella Bolger. But after he saw her, there was no one. He had fallen in love. And later, she returned his love. They went to battle together; they nearly died protecting each other. They were healed together. And she waited for him when he returned to the battlefield. They rejoiced together. And then, at the best time, he didn’t ask for her hand in marriage. He went home and spent nine years away from her. He debated whether or not she would be happy in a land so far from home. He even debated whether or not it was proper for a hobbit to take one of the Big People as a wife. Finally, he proposed to her. They were married. They had three beautiful children. They were happy. Everything was perfect.
Until now, now that she was sick.
Eowyn’s coughing broke his thoughts. It sounded awful. Merry swore that even Saruman would have been moved if he heard Eowyn’s coughing. He knew that it hurt to cough that hard too. Merry took her hand and stroked it.
“Shhh, I’m here. Everyhting will be okay,” he said as she held a cloth up to her mouth to catch the blood.
“Merry,” she began. It was not much more than a whisper.
“No. Don’t speak. I’m here. I’m going to take care of you.”
The fit finally ended. Merry wiped the blood from Eowyn’s lips. “Oh Merry,” she whispered. “I love you.”
“I love you too, darling. Now sleep if you can.”
Iris had insisted on looking after her mother for a little while. She wanted to give her father a little relief from the many torturous hours by Eowyn’s bedside. Merry tried reading one of his books, but couldn’t get into it with his mind somewhere else. He was just about to tell Iris that he would look after Eowyn again when he heard a knock on the door.
“Faramir, what is it?” Faramir was pale and looked as if he had been crying.
“Uncle, who is looking after Eowyn?”
“Come outside with me Uncle. I need to tell you something.” They sat down on the bench outside Brandy Hall.
“Faramir, what is it?”
“Uncle, tuberculosis can easily be mistaken for a lingering cold during the early months. I’m afraid that I’ve made that same mistake.”
“What are you trying to tell me, Faramir?”
“Merry, I am so sorry. Tuberculosis is fatal.” Merry felt a icy chill stab into his heart and it left him numb. He couldn’t feel anything.
“What kind of a doctor am I?” Faramir continued. “I study in Gondor under the finest healers, even King Elessar. I am known as the finest doctor in the Shire. And yet I cannot even save my cousin’s wife.”
“You are a fine doctor, Faramir. Don’t worry. Eowyn has had this for years.”
“My books said that tuberculosis lived in the body for a long time.”
“I remember soon after we left Rohan some years ago that a plague of tuberculosis swept though Rohan. I should have remembered that when you said that she had tuberculosis, it was the same thing that went through Rohan. But it didn’t. That’s a hobbit’s mind for you. I remember this one family. They were members of court. The little girl was so fascinated that she was almost as tall as me. I would chase her around the Golden Hall. She was such an image of joy, always laughing. Everyone in that family died during the plague, her, her mother, and her father.” Merry fell silent.
“Does it affect hobbits?”
“No. Hobbits seem to have an immunity to it.”
“I’m sorry, Uncle. Forgive me for not seeing soon enough.”
“Ther is nothing to forgive, Faramir. You have done your best. Is it incredibly painful?”
“Yes. Expect more blood. And her coughing will get more violent. Tuberculosis is a long-suffering disease.”
“How ironic that the exact thing that she didn’t want to happen to her will take her life. It’s almost as if the Witch-king is getting his revenge.” Merry stood up. “I’m going to go see your father.”
Merry almost collasped in Pippin’s arms when he opened the door. Diamond immediantly went to the kitchen so that she would not interfere, but could still hear. Pippin led the weeping Merry over to the couch.
“Merry, what has happened. Has something happened to Eowyn? Theoden? Marigold? Iris and Violet?” Faramir’s words kept going through his mind. “Tuberculosis is fatal..”
“Eowyn,” was all he could bring himself to say.
“Shhh, it’s all right. I’m here. When you get ready to talk, I’ll listen.”
Later when Merry’s tears were dried, he told Pip the whole story. Then he began to weep again, not for himself, but for his wife and children.
“Eowyn needs someone with gentle hands to take care of her. Go Merry. Spend as much time as you can with her. And make her happy.” Merry embrace his cousin warmly.
“Good goodbye, Merry.”
After he closed the door behind him, Diamond walked out of the kitchen. Pippin hld her as they cried for their friends.
You guys don’t know how much of this was inspired by music. I don’t know if there are any tolkienonliners in Hawaii, but if there are and they are reading this story, do you recognize the title? Yeah, the English translation of Aloha Oe.
There’s more too. I’ll give you little tidbits about the songs that inspired a lot of stuff in this story