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Of Memories

19. Of Memories

From what I could tell, Mr. Frodo had almost no memories of his own left of our journey from the Crossroads on, and much of the time we was in Cormallen and in Minas Tirith was also a blur for him. When he went to write that part of the story in the Red Book he’d ask me what I membered, and that’s mostly what he wrote down. His memories from afore were fine, once the Ring was gone; but that time when the Ring was at its worst and just after we awoke....

When he asked me questions of the time he didn’t member hisself, he’d take notes of it as if it were of some other body altogether I was telling, not of his own person. It were as if he were standing aside of hisself, as if some other Frodo Baggins was writing this story of how he’d been dying of thirst and starving and torment than the one sitting with the quill and pages in his hand. His eyes was curious, but like it had nothing to do with him. It were right odd. And it didn’t make no difference whether the memory was of agony or beauty--it just didn’t touch him--at least not then. Not when I told him of his falling as if he’d been struck by a hammer when the Eye looked his way on the Plain of Gorgoroth, and not when I told him of the light shining of him when we rested at the top of the stair of Cirith Ungol and he were sleeping.

He and I both membered how heavy the Ring was once we approached Mordor. I didn’t realize, though, till I saw him naked in that orc tower how its weight had cut into his neck, even. How something that small could bow you down is a terror. But it were full of the hatred of the Enemy, and as we got closer to Mount Doom it grabbed onto that hatred, and magnified all the pain and horror, and filled itself with it all, and turned it all into a weight that could be felt. By the end, Frodo felt as if he was carrying the full weight of Barad-dur itself about his neck.

I’d often grabbed his hands as they strayed toward the Ring, when the nightmares filled him, when we’d hear the crying of the Black Riders afar off, when the Eye was looking our way. The Ring tried so hard to command him, and when it succeeded it were the awfullest ever. I’ll never forget the look on his face as he claimed it, that terror, the plea in his eyes to me to hold his hand again to stop it from taking him, then the sneer when it got its will at last. That weren’t my Master then, that were the Ring itself plain and simple. I realized he’d intended to leap into the Fire to take the Ring with him, but once he had it on the Ring perceived his plan and made him turn around.

And the sheer joke of it being took off by that Gollum, and the Master’s curse on that craven creature coming true--that if he as touched him again, his Precious would command him to leap into the Fire hisself, and he did----

The Ring had to follow its Master’s commands; and for that one moment as Frodo Baggins pronounced doom on the creature who once was Sméagol of the River Folk, at that moment, though he didn’t have it on his finger, he was its Master. And it did the Master’s will, and so doomed itself. Ironic, the word is--its own will to destroy others brought about its own destruction.

“Oft evil will does evil mar.” One of the others membered someone saying that, and that was the way of the Ring.

When we was in Edoras for the funeral of Théoden and the making of Eomer as King of Rohan and the handfasting of Éowyn and Faramir, I got Strider aside to ask him about the memories. I member asking, “Why can’t he member that time, there in the Black Lands?”

He looked off and sighed. “It’s often this way, Sam,” he said. “Some pain is so deep that to fully remember it would destroy the person who bore it; so the Valar give the person forgetfulness as a gift, that the joy of life not be lost through the memory of agony. Few women would agree to bear a second child if they held full memory of what the birth of the first cost them in pain. And many warriors who have lost arms or eyes or worse have no memory of the last fight, or remember it as if it happened to another and not themselves.”

Well, I could see how that could be true, how it must be true of Frodo.

“But what if he starts to member hisself?” I asked.

He shook his head. “I don’t know, Sam. Maybe it would be as if it happened to someone else, or maybe it would bring it all back completely. No one can say how it will be with any one soul.

“I have to warn you, though, that although the memories are hidden from him now, they still remain there, and they can come out in odd ways. No one can say for certain how they might manifest themselves ahead of time. He was badly wounded, Sam, in body and spirit, so badly the scars cannot be ignored. And they will show, and probably at the worst times of all. They are scars, deep scars, Sam. It can never be as if his finger weren’t bitten off, or as if the weight of the Burden hadn’t cut so deeply into his neck, or as if the Morgul knife hadn’t struck deep into his shoulder, or the Spider’s poison hadn’t coursed through his veins. Nor can the scarring of his soul be as if it hadn’t happened. He is likely to have part of it come back at times, and when that happens who can say what it will cost him? And perhaps he is now only in the numbness of first healing--when the numbness wears off, as the feeling in his arm began to return in Rivendell, he is likely to feel pain, and it will grow worse before it grows better.” He sighed again, tipped my head up to look into his eyes, and I saw the grief there for Frodo. “He can never fully be as he once was, Sam. Evil did its best to possess him, to turn him away from himself.”

Then he looked off to the West, and said, full soft, “There is a light within him, Sam. I’ve seen it, and you, and Gandalf, and Elrond, and Galadriel, and my beloved Arwen. At first it was hidden by his mortality, by his very being as a Hobbit of the Shire. But so much of himself was burned away by his burden.” He looked back at me. “I don’t know why Eru or the Powers give such light so some, but it is there, and it has grown stronger as there is less to veil it.

“But I now see a light within you, too, Sam. It is a strong light, similar to that in your Master, but at the same time, warmer, more comforting. Frodo’s light has always drawn to him those who have eyes to see it, and the same is true of you as well.”

“I’ve seen the light in Gandalf, Strider,” I said. “I think it was there afore, but now he’s come back it’s only just below the surface, like. Is that what you see in Frodo?” And he nodded. And he held out his hand and put it around my shoulders, then pulled me close to his side. And he was looking to the West again, and I looked up and saw he were weeping, weeping without making a sound. And I realized I was weeping, too. And I pulled from my pocket a couple of handkerchiefs and gave him one.


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