At last my task is done. The last word, the last full stop lie blackly on the page. I lay down my pen and gently close the cover of The Red Book for the last time. I stroke the familiar leather cover with tender fingers remembering with a smile Bilbo’s words “I’ve thought of an end to my story, Frodo – “and they all lived happily ever after”.” That would be a good ending for any other story – but not for this one; not for me.
I flex my fingers, numb and cramped from that last final torrent of words. How will my story end? Now that the words no longer come to me I feel that it has ended already. What is left for me here?
Yesterday, Merry and Pippin swept into Bag End bringing with them the lightness of heart that comes on the first real day of summer sunshine. It warms my heart to see them: so young and fine, so dashing and light hearted. Life for them is sweet and promising, full of riches to be plucked and enjoyed. May it always be so.
And Sam. My trusty, indomitable Sam . . . . . . He has Rosie to love and care for now, and she returns that love in equal measure. They are worthy partners and well matched. My love for him is matched by my pleasure and pride in his strength and confidence. He has faith in himself and nothing will shake it: in later years he will be remembered with affection and respect by all who knew him. I cannot imagine life without him; but he must have the opportunity to live his own life, take his own chances, give his devotion to his wife and family.
And me? What could I have become free of that terrible burden? It is useless to look back and regret the things that might have been, the people we might have become if . . . .such a little word ‘if’, but laden with so much potential. I have heard it said that we are only given the burdens we can bear; but this one took my life. There will be no peace or tranquility for me in the Shire again.
My heart is drained; my spirit is restless. The world is grey and dim. My longing for the Ring remains undiminished – an aching hunger that cannot be assuaged. I can no longer find pleasure in the small, familiar, comforting things.
But hope remains. I must go away to find the peace and tranquility I long for. To become myself again. To be whole. To be free.
It will not be without pain or grief. How can you say goodbye to those you have loved and who love you dearly, without the bitter agony of sorrow? But better that than weary indifference.
If I were to remain here my life would become a dragging misery despite the best intentions of my friends.
And what would I be to them? An embarassment? A sad and constant reminder of an adventure we shared, which for them, though full of hardship and danger, was a chance to grow, to find their true selves; while I emerged crippled and maimed.
I do not want their pity. I have no pity for myself. I chose to take the path I walked. Even though it took from me every ounce of my strength and will, I would do it again.
For I have learned the value of true friendship; a jewel beyond price, and I take that away with me. I have loved and been loved, and that is a gift worth more than a thousand rings. I wear it in my heart and know that it will sustain me through the long years of our parting.
For I will see Sam again. I know that with sure certainty. And I will meet him, throw my arms around him and share with him again those happy childhood memories. And he will tell me all the news from home. And we will bear the burdens of old age together.
I go from you now. Remember me without regret or sorrow. What we have given each other is never lost, but returns to cheer us in our darkest moments.