Last Wednesday, I not only had a wonderful coffee date with a new friend, but I got a call for an interview for a job I have been hoping to get. The catch: it's a group interview, which is a term that has baffled me since way before I was looking to be the one interviewed. Will we perform trust exercises, work on a team project, or perhaps do each other's hair and make-up? Or will we simply be put in a row facing those interviewing and answer down the line? Anyway, I'm nervous. It's tomorrow afternoon, so maybe I'll understand more what the term means after.
I've applied for a couple other jobs and reposted my ads on Craigslist, so maybe I'll get more calls soon. Michael asked me last night if I felt like I was in a "housewife trance"...I guess my unrest is wearing me more than a little around the edges of my happy moods! There are days that I feel extremely discouraged, but most days I am thankful for the opportunity to spend time at home learning how to keep it clean and orderly without a schedule, so that when I do have one I will be better suited to plan my daily tasks like grocery shopping, laundry and tidying. Currently, though, those tasks do get left longer than they might otherwise, due to the absence of a time constraint! It's strange, but procrastination doesn't only happen in school...
Yesterday, I finished the third book in The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King. It is my favorite of the three, at once for its exciting war and "quest" sequences and for its deeply touching scenes of glory, grieving, and the joy of the meeting of close friends and loved ones following life's biggest and darkest moments. Also, Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler may be my favorite silver-screen matching ever, and their marriage happens at one of the most glorious moments in the book.
However, as I read one of the pivotal scenes, a memory of my late "godfather", Dave, came rushing back to me. The scene follows one of the most brutal battles, and the death of King Théoden, to whom the hobbit Merry had sworn his service in the days before the battle where he fell. It is a bittersweet scene, for several members of the Company of the Ring are reunited after the battle in the Houses of Healing. Merry was badly wounded, but is recovering quickly after Aragorn puts his healing skills to use. The hobbit is granted anything he wishes, as he gave the fatal blow to the leader of the Nazgul, the Ringwraiths. However, at the mention of a pipe, he falters.
'No, not a pipe. I don't think I'll smoke again....He is dead. It has brought it all back to me. He said he was sorry he never had a chance of talking herb-lore with me. Almost the last thing he ever said. I shan't ever be able to have a smoke again without thinking of him, and that day, Pippin, when he rode up to Isengard and was so polite.'For some reason, this scene brought me back to a moment in the last weeks of Dave's life, when he was very sick and far too weak to walk about on his own. He was resistant to death in many ways, and seemed to begrudge the fact that he felt caged in the house where he eventually passed. At one point, he managed to get out into the living room, but for some reason none of the men were around to help him back into the room where he had been lying in bed. As someone went to get one of them, I stood and supported him. Though he had been frantically trying to get outside, to get somewhere other than that bedroom, for a moment, he stopped and he looked at me straight in the eyes. Just for a few seconds he seemed to become lucid, and he said, "I love you". That is the last time I ever heard him say something directly to me before he died. I think I shut it out when it became too regular in those waking moments of grief in the days afterward, but as Merry is called to do, it is a treasured and invaluable memory and should be held on to.
'Smoke then, and think of him!' said Aragorn.
The last scene of the LOTR seems almost out of place for a first-time reader...and still it seemed so for me as I read it for the third or fourth time. Why would Tolkien separate the hobbits, even all of those friends bound together by that horrible, yet deeply intimate, journey and quest in the War of the Ring? Shouldn't they live "happily ever after"? But his choice is the bolder for that seeming out-of-place decision. For those bonds of friendship will transcend the distance that separates the individuals, for they lived side by side and shared the most wonderful and terrible moments of their lives. It is much like death, I think. Of course, death is always a wrenching sadness for those left behind, but that (in my opinion) is chiefly due to our growing attachment to our worldly lives. Not that the experiences we share on earth are without meaning, for obviously this is where we forge those bonds and connections. However, we must focus instead on the heavenly kingdom, where no distance or time will separate us from one another, nor even from our God.
I think that the scene of the ships departing for the Grey Havens, carrying so many of the "greatest" of that quest and leaving behind Sam Gamgee and Merry & Pippen, the "little ones", is a touching illustration of those left behind on earth when one of our own goes to be with the Lord. And thus did the scene bring tears to my eyes, though I had read it before: and they were not all bitter, yet not all sweet, either.