Holding a Lantern



Dear Diary, today I let loose my hair. As I had thought, it is quite grown back since last year. I wish Galdorion spent more time in the Vale, for several ellyth have asked me where one can get those unique fan-shaped hair-pins, and as far as I know, he is the source. As well, he is a gentle soul, and did not reprimand me for cutting my hair short in a paroxysm of grief one year ago today. Ai Themodir!

When I was a little girl in Alqualondë, and some mariner or another had been too long at sea, the Falmari used to go high up on the sea-cliffs. We would each hold a lantern, and in this way cast a shining beam across the sea to guide home the lost sailor. I told this to Norliriel, my priceless friend, who wears the betrothal-ring of her slain love from Ondolindë around her neck on a chain. I did not think much about it before, but perhaps her own timeless grief is like a bell struck by mine. And of course, she had hoped so much to save Themodir - particularly because Daegond, before the first party set out on their run back to Imladris, ordered my darling not to let his wound defeat him. I did not know that, as it was not in Norlië's notes to Tûr. But I deem it was mere wishful thinking on my brother's part, much like my own pleas to take my ray of starlight to the Houses of Healing. 

We stood at the cairn and looked down upon the path to the Last Homely House, where my darling was lain before Tûr with only a fur cloak for a litter, where I was married and, some minutes later, widowed one year ago this day. No time at all, really. But each of us felt in our own way that the occasion bore marking. I wore a light gown, the steel blue of a stormy sea, and Norlië was attired likewise.

We discussed Tûr and his own grief - I saw him not at all this day - and how we might relieve his heart-ache. I will of course consult with Mirineth, who is wise in these matters, and has only grown wiser since her few years in retreat in the Ered Luin. Another eye-blink. I mentioned Lilleduil's suggestion that those in the Blessed Lands, in the halls of Mandos or out of them, see time differently than we do upon Arda. She thinks that perhaps they are not so impatient as we are, we who remain behind and grieve the loss of the yéni we might have had with our friends, family, true loves. And thus, Norlië's betrothed will not chastise her for making him wait while she labours as a healer, but he will simply become as a shining beacon of perfect gladness and love when she steps off the White Ship at last.

I wondered, as I ever do, how the short-lived races bear not knowing what will happen to them upon the departure of their fëa. I have written in these pages before of how I was flagged down by some desperate Men on the Great East Road, quite a few yéni ago. I reminded Norlië of this, and said that even as I worked quickly to cut the womb-cord free of the afterbirth (I remember that the father took this necessary but ugly organ away, and said he would do some disgusting thing with it - I think he meant to bury it under one of the few trees in that land, that the child would grow strong as the tree did!) and clean the poor infant, and then as I held it for a moment before the mother was recovered enough to coddle it herself... how even though the child was healthy and vigorous, bawling like a tiny calf, and all signs boded well that it would continue so, even if it avoided all disease, accident, war... someday it must die. How do the After-comers bear this, not only their short lives but the permanent separation from Eru Ilúvatar and His world?

The conversation naturally turned to hir Glorfindel. I said that it gave me hope to see one who had been through Mandos and back into his body in the land we now inhabit, but that in his presence I also felt - I, who played in the light of Laurelin and Telperion! - like a tiny child myself. Norlië said she felt the same, but in fact more so... I learned then that she saw his heroic deed and death, during the sack of the White City! My poor sweet friend, she has seen and borne so very much.

Except for Norlië, and a few visits from my beloved swan-friend Rámarille throughout the day, I was alone in my vigil. This was for the better, I think, for none else had to see me talk to my darling's cairn, or embrace it, or weep and sing my grief to the trees in a cracking voice. It is a hard place for most people to be, especially Tûr, who wept when last we brought him unto the marker over my sweet soldier's hröa. We saw that Dolthafaer's arrow that he thrust into the ground at the funeral still remained, and that some one had evidently planted an acorn as tribute last summer, for now a slim but sturdy oak sapling stands guard over the grave, with the irises and bluebells planted around the cairn for company. 

But talking of Tûr's visit - when we brought him, it was with the purpose of having it be he, the boyhood friend of my husband, who placed a single drop of the precious poison-antidote  on the capstone of the cairn. In this way, we hoped that some bird -- for gulls live this far inland, it is known -- or some knowledge spanning the Straight Road would let Themodir understand that there was such an antidote now, that none other would suffer the incredible agonies he had (and Norlië assured me he asked for no potion, no salve, no draught to lighten his burden). Well! I do not know - I have had no further dream of Themodir, though I beg the Valar nightly before I take my rest - whether he knows, whether Lord Námö has carried the message of mercy, that there is a true antidote to the Daegûr poison. But I do know something that Norlië witnessed - the capstone has gone red all through it, like unto a loving heart atop the stone-pile. We certainly did not pour on enough of the precious fluid to effect this change by force. Tûr barely wet his fingertip with the stuff. I have no explanation, Diary, but there it is.

At last I ended my vigil, growing weary, for grief is a thing that saps the strength. As my twin star and I walked down the hill, who should we see but Yrill, leading two new Arrow recruits? I believe I have heard them called Carniquesse and Raumolire, although like most Arrows, they seemed quite shy of even such little society as Norlië and I represented. Yrill herself spoke but little, although she smiled in response to a light jest I made about not making too much work for us. I said that when she had time, and was not weary from a patrol - in need of a bath, a hearty supper, and bed - I should quite like to speak with her (being mindful of hiril Danel's request that I do so, relating to the Eregion affair), and to this she assented. I find her way of speaking her mind plainly quite refreshing, after having to be polite to such pompous fools as that Erehir fellow, who badgered poor Arasiell about every thing from her grammar to her hair! She is a huntress - why ought she not keep her locks short? The sheer gall of it! Not all ellyth, especially in this time of war, wish... wish to marry. I suppose I am something of a cautionary tale.

And so, Diary, though my heart lay shattered, I was not left alone the whole of this day, and that was well. I think I can sleep tonight without a draught, for in discussing my sweet one's portrait, which Norlië and hir Tindir and hiril Himwen also find excellent, I was reminded of how many knew and loved my one and only Themodir -- Daegond, Veryacano... so many hearts that more than likely spared a few beats for my great hero today. And there are many more, like Losgael and Earcalie, who came to the halls of Bar-en-Vanimar only later, but are inspired by tales of his bravery. Losgael keeps saying how she wishes she had met him, and she even sewed a grand and elaborate tapestry of our story, with Béren and Lúthien looking on from the margins!

Ai, Themodir, my one love, my silver treasure. You are a legend. None will forget you so long as I live, and I shall make all arrangements so that you will be remembered even by the After-comers who are fated to inherit these lands some day.

My darling. My lantern in the darkness. My true love. I cannot come to you yet, for I have not yet finished the work I do in your memory, taking good care of your friends and the liege lord, the boyhood friend, you loved so well. He too still holds you in his heart, no less than Norlië, no less than Daegond... I shall come to you some day when the Enemy is vanquished, and I shall hold you tightly. Remember, my love, that

[the rest of this line is rendered illegible by tear stains]