Thank Lewis For Me
It was several years after the death of the Inspector before Lewis had found himself able to look back on the events of that remorseful day with any degree of level headedness – without sadness, or grief, or anger, or the black and empty hole of loss in his heart – and contemplate the decisions which had brought him to this point in his life now; back to Oxford, a place he'd left shortly after Morse's funeral, and hadn't been able to bring himself to return to since. It had all proven to be too much for him at the time… too fresh… too painful. Everywhere had provided its own bleak reminder of the Inspector, the best friend Lewis hadn't even realised he had until the end had come. He couldn't remain there, where they'd shared so much… so much in the way of friendship, and hardship, and pain, and trial. Their ties had been tested beyond the boundaries of most, and strengthened over the years… but when the offer of the Inspectors job back in Oxford had come up, and had been subsequently offered to him Lewis had felt compelled to take it… in fact he'd never wanted a job so much in his life before. It was finally time for him to return home.
On his return to Oxford he'd visited all the places which reminded him most of Morse, and had been both most surprised and relieved to see how little they'd changed. The first place of all he'd paid visit to however had been the Inspector's graveside, where he'd laid not flowers but a libretto – which he'd seen as a more fitting tribute to a friend he hadn't seen in many years. But at the time he hadn't needed a grave stone to keep Morse's memory alive, so long as he always kept him close to his heart, and took time to recall the details of the times they'd once shared together, the Inspector would always be with him.
"Hello sir." He smiled. "It's me, I've come home… but I guess you already probably knew I'd return one day."
He then sat at Morse's graveside for hours, talking of a time long past, to a friend he knew was no longer really there… but in talk he sought comfort from the imagined words of his old friend. What would Morse say in his situation?
Would he be pleased for him? Would he be proud? Knowing Morse it would probably be hard to tell, but the resounding voice deep in his heart told him so… and he smiled.
He remembered the evening he'd first found out about Morse's passing. The events flitting by, frame by frame, in his mind as though it had only been yesterday. He'd been taking Sandra Harrison in for questioning when Chief Superintendent Strange had called him with the news… it was so loud where they'd been… too loud, that he hadn't heard clearly enough at first. But he remembered distinctly enough asking the Superintendent to speak up.
He'd lived through a waking nightmare that evening… one he'd lived through every day since…
"I'm sorry Lewis… Inspector Morse is dead…"
Lewis didn't know how he'd ever managed to get through that interview after receiving such devastating news – it had come as such a shattering blow after the years they'd spent working together – but he had… and he'd found strength from somewhere.
He remembered sitting at the Inspector's side a few days later, Strange at his shoulder as Lewis had cried unashamedly into Morse's cold body… the tears had been brief but bitter, but he had shown no inhibitions in his emotions as the Chief Superintendent had shed a few tears of his own that day. It was then that Strange had revealed to him the truth about the Chief Inspector's final words.
"Lewis," He'd sighed. "Morse… he never really revealed it, I understand he was quite a private man… but, he was very close to you, you know… you meant a lot to him."
"He meant a lot to me to Sir." Lewis had nodded at this. "More than he could have ever known."
"I know he could be infuriating at times… could try the patience of a saint… but he always had the best of intentions at heart."
"After all he'd been through his last thoughts were still for you Lewis… you were never far from his mind… it took a lot for him to say it by that point of course… but I just thought you'd like to know his last words were 'thank Lewis for me'."
Lewis hadn't been able to respond to this, his voice had become temporarily lodged in his throat with a lump of emotion by this revelation. When he finally found himself able to respond his voice was a broken tone.
"…Thank you sir…that… that means a lot…"
"All I know is that you must have meant a great deal to him…even after everything he'd already been through…it just wasn't fare…he should have retired whilst he had the chance… he was taken too soon…"
"He'd never have agreed to early retirement Sir." Lewis had sighed. "You know that…he'd have been miserable."
It was then that Lewis turned to Superintendent Strange. "Listen sir…" He'd faltered. "I'm sorry… but would you mind if I just have a moment to myself?"
It went against all generally accepted custom for a sergeant to ask his superior officer for a favour, but the older man had nodded at this, in full understanding.
"Of course… I'll be outside if you need anything."
As Chief Superintendent Strange had left the room – closing the door behind him – Lewis had leaned over Chief Inspector Morse's body.
"Thank you sir."
A few days later he'd said his final goodbye.
That afternoon as Lewis got up to leave Morse's graveside he turned back affectionately to look upon his Inspector's gravestone.
It was so hard to believe that everything they'd ever been through together had now come down to this – the markings on a slab of cheap rock the only indication of what the Chief Inspector had ever meant to anyone… he'd meant so much more to Lewis than this. Although – as he'd already learnt a long time ago – he didn't need this slab of rock to keep Inspector Morse's memory alive… so long as he kept his memory alive everyday in his own head, and in his heart.
"I'll be back to see you again soon sir." He promised. "Thank you!"