Don't own, don't sue.
Thanks to everyone for their support. To Mr. Jones—RIP. We miss you dearly.
The soft voice makes me start in surprise, before I turn and see my friend regarding me from her position on the walls. Grief is etched into her features, but her gaze is steady as she wraps a battered leather overcoat tighter around her slender frame. The coat looks familiar, then I realize why. "That's his coat, isn't it?"
A ghost of a smile flits across her face. "Yes. It still smells like him…" She breaks off as her voice breaks—I reach out to touch her shoulder gently, but she ignores it as she struggles with her emotions.
"Arwen says he passed peacefully, with no pain." I murmur, knowing my words are scant comfort. "She said he just… fell asleep, and did not suffer."
"Thank Eru for small mercies, then," she murmurs in reply.
We sit in silence for a while, watching the sun set, until she begins softly whistling the strains of a merry ballad. Catching my quizzical look, she explains, "I must laugh, or else I will cry."
In those simple words, I understand. She is the eldest of our trio, and accustomed to being the pillar of strength for Estel and I. Whenever one of us got into trouble, she was always there to pick us up, dry our tears, care for us, and protect us. Now Estel is gone, and my poor friend… she is trying so hard to be strong for Arwen and I, but her heart is broken, and all she can do is put up a brave face.
"Do you know what Sam said Mithrandir told them when he departed?" I ask quietly.
She arches an eyebrow, an unspoken request for me to continue.
"He told them, 'I will not say 'do not weep', for not all tears are evil.'"
Again, she smiles fleetingly. "That does sound like Mithrandir."
I reach over to pull her closer—she nestles into me like a lost puppy. "We will weep for him, you and i. we will mourn the loss of our brother, and pray that Mandos has taken him to a better place."
She nods—looking down, I see one solitary tear making its way down her cheek. With my free hand, I gently wipe it away. When she finally speaks, her voice is gravelly with her heart's pain. "Aye. We will remember him for the wonderful man he was—we will miss him and all the adventures we had together. But we knew it would someday come to this—and I, for one, would not have traded all those years to rid myself of this pain."
"Nor would I." I tell her, and mean it with all my heart.
A soft sigh racks her slim form as she watches the sun slip beneath the horizon. "Namarie, Estel, tithen muinthor. I loved you and will always love you—all of us will miss you, Estel, but we will remember you as the bright-eyed, sweet-natured boy of twenty. You gave us all hope again. Fare thee well, dear brother, and wherever you are now, know that you are remembered, missed, and loved."
My Academic Quiz Team coach passed away in his sleep on Sunday night. We still don't know why. The whole high school is still reeling. This is my tribute to a wonderful man and an awesome coach. Thank you for everything, Mr. Jones, and the last phrase of this story is directed to you.