I just said goodbye to my parents. For several moments I stood there, clutched in my mother’s arms, tears streaming freely down my face in the darkness. I closed my eyes, and tried to turn my soul into wet clay, being forever shaped by that hug, forever imprinted by that love. I wanted to forever hold like a child the warmth of being held like a child. And as I stood there, my eyes shut, a picture slipped into my head: Frodo saying goodbye to Sam, moments before Frodo stepped onto the last ship bound for Valinor. Forever leaving Middle Earth; forever leaving the known for the unknown, the land of white shores and green pastures beyond the horizon. Forever leaving Samwise Gamgee, the one without whom Frodo would have never gone far.
He never did go far.
The thought leapt into my mind, and for the millionth time, I thanked God for J.R.R. Tolkien. Frodo couldn’t have gone far without Sam—and he never did. Within several decades, Sam too stepped onto a white ship, bound for Valinor. When Frodo and Sam both thought they were saying goodbye forever, Sam was only a few steps behind. He was still there. He was still coming. Frodo never went far without Sam.
And neither will I.
As Gandalf said, “Goodbye, Bilbo Baggins…until our next meeting.”