THIS PARTING SO BITTER
Amme once told me that time can claim one’s memories. And she was right.
It was been nigh on a year since you left us, Ada. Sometimes, I worry that I am forgetting what you looked like, so I find myself standing before your portrait that hangs in the hall and drinking in the sight of your image.
In the past, Amme would stand beside me, tears meandering down her pale cheeks. Her quivering hand would reach out and touch the painting, as if trying to hold onto you for but a moment longer. Her eyes would slip shut as she sighed, filled with memories of you. What was she thinking of, Ada? Was it your kiss? Your touch as you slid you arms around her slim waist? I remember watching you both when I was small, embracing one another lovingly, kissing, not caring who saw you. You were both happy to be in love and be together. I can only pray that I am blessed with a love so dedicated and unwavering as yours. Do you hold her now, Ada? Now that her spirit is beyond the Circles of the World?
That is the real reason why I have come. Last night, as the storm raged violently outside, I dreamt of her, wandering the icy grounds of Lothlorien – but no longer was she the youthful woman whose melodic voice would lull me to sleep at night. Her dark hair was streaked with the purest silver, her silken skin now creased with age and worry. Yet, I knew her instantly. She was my Amme.
I do not know why I continued to watch her. Perhaps it was in horrified fascination. No spell in Middle Earth could have convinced me to abandon what I already knew. My mother was going to die.
The tears had stopped flowing, the starlight faded from her eyes. She seemed so calm, yet I sensed that she was torn asunder inside as she stumbled towards the hill of Cerin Amroth. The irony of this did not escape me, as I watched Amme, the woman whom I love and respect above all others, sink to her knees. Mallorn leaves littered the ground as she lay back, whispering a prayer into the chill breeze. Then, she exhaled her final breath and died.
My screams and wailing must have awoken the entire palace. Perhaps they thought I was being attacked? However, when it was discovered that the cause of my distress was, “Nothing more than a nightmare,” as one guard put it, the crowd disbanded. But my crying did not cease, and despite my handmaidens’ best efforts, they were unable to quell my tears. What did they know of losing their parents in such quick succession? I may be a princess, but that does not exclude me from having feelings either.
I continued to sob uncontrollably, until someone sent for my brother. Eldarion looked exhausted, dark circles under his eyes and his skin livid; but when our eyes met, he dived immediately to my side.
“She is dead,” I choked, the first coherent sentence I had managed since awakening. Eldarion enfolded his arms around me as I buried my face in his shoulder. It was almost as if I was a child again, that mischievous little girl who was always getting into trouble on some level. Whenever I grazed my knees falling on the gravel path from chasing the stable-boys, or was excluded from games because I was “just a girl,” you and Amme were never my first comfort. Eldarion would be at my side within a heartbeat, nursing the ills of his youngest sister. And even to this day, he is the first of my siblings to grieve with me
You would not recognise your own son, Ada – Eldarion has changed so much. The crown of Gondor weighs heavily upon his head; it is a noose slowly choking him. You assured him that he was a man full-ripe from kingship, with the wisdom and courage to rule over our people wisely. If only he could believe that himself. My brother is afraid, unsure. Your death has torn the heart from his chest and sliced it with the dagger of grief and despair. Perhaps you have seen him, wandering aimlessly about the gardens when he has but a moment’s relief from his duties. You are no longer here to advise him – neither is Amme.
At our parting, I felt my throat grow suddenly dry, tightening like a fist. I remember her last goodbyes to us, her promises that one day soon, we would all be reunited. She loves – loved – you more than you will ever know, Ada. The grief in her eyes broke my heart. There was nothing I could do, save throw my arms around her and beg her to remain.
Amme shook her head. “No, Cirnellë, nin-iell. My time upon Middle Earth is drawing to an end. I would spare you the grief of watching my sun sink behind the horizon, seeing the flame of my candle slowly extinguish. Nay, I must leave now. My heart desires to see the Golden Wood before my passing.” Trembling lips dropped a kiss to my forehead. “Amin mela lle, Cirnellë. Never forget.”
She kissed her us goodbye, one by one. My sisters remained silent, solemn – I fear that the grief was too much for them to bear. Eldarion was struggling to restrain the tears that glimmered like slithers of mithril in his eyes. I watched him kiss her hand reverently, before dropping to his knees. His arms snaked around her waist as he wept bitterly into her stomach. Soon, all of us were crying, pouring out our grief at this bitter parting.
The last place we visited as a family was your grave, Ada. I stand in the selfsame spot that I did that day; I can almost feel Amme gripping my arm to steady herself. My sisters were soon overcome by their grief, and ran. Only Eldarion and I stayed with our mother.
We saw her kneel before your grave, praying to the Valar in an ancient High Elven tongue. Then she cried, “Estel!”
I sink to my knees, bowing my head. If only you knew just how much I miss you, Ada. And now Amme is gone too. Yet, I can derive a shred of comfort from knowing that you are together, and together you will remain, until the end of Arda descends upon Middle Earth. One day, Ada and Amme, we will meet again. I know not the time nor place, but I know that this parting so bitter is not permanent. While elven blood does flow in my veins, I am mortal. It matters not that I am of Númenorean descent, for I am mortal like you, Ada. Mortal like Amme became for you.
Goodbye, Ada. Take care of Amme for me, and I will take care of Eldarion for you. Cormamin niuve tenna’ ta elea lle au’. Namarie.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ada = Daddy
Amme = Mama
nin-iell = my daughter
Amin mela lle = I love you
Cormamin niuve tenna’ ta elea lle au’ = My heart shall weep until it sees thee again.
Namarie = Farewell.