If Thou Wilt, Forget

The first night she didn't even try to sleep. John had accompanied her back to her quarters and stayed with her a while, a quiet wall of comfort and support, but eventually he'd left. She'd remained awake, staring at the guttering candles, twisting the silver circle he'd placed on her finger around, and around, and around, waiting for the pain to stop.

Eventually it faded. Eventually she forgot. For minutes, then hours, then days at a time, her hyper-natural awareness of his breathing would fade. She could smile, and laugh, and touch him without the impulse to clutch and hold, to ground him in life. The pain subsided into a background ache, the occasional piercing sadness sufficient to keep her mindful and aware of the passage of time.

Months and years passed, and it was easy, so easy to forget. Years filled with joy and yes, more pain, but none of that mattered because they were together. History was woven tight between them; their lives were interlocked. Delenn no longer thought of the inevitable future without him, because she could no longer imagine it.

After a few years she instituted a ritual of remembrance on the anniversary of her rebirth. All her emotions she crowded into that one day. The morning was spent in prayer and meditation on acceptance. The afternoon was spent out of doors, watching anything in flight; birds, ships, the awkward paper kites John made for David which were often torn to pieces in the wild winds that blew through the city parks. Delenn didn't mind the wind, although it tore at her upturned hair, long tresses woven into a soft knot at the back of her neck. It made her feel alive, as alive as John's deep laughter and their son's echoes of glee. "You might as well try to fly" had been the words that brought her back from the abyss, and she tried. She tried to fly.

After ten years she started performing the ritual at the turn of each season. It was harder to forget now, as David turned from child to rebellious youth. John had aged and mellowed, but some of his old spark was reborn in his son. They quarreled occasionally and each time she wanted to intervene and caution them against wasting their precious time together. David was still too young to be told of his father's fate, and wouldn't have understood her remonstrances. Besides, John insisted this was how young people broke away from their elders on Earth. It was part of growing up. If the truth be told, this was how it happened everywhere, even on conservative Minbar.

It was after they returned from Centauri Prime that Delenn realized how deeply she feared and resented the looming parting. David had been rescued and sent on ahead, before they were captured. They had escaped only with the contrivance of the old Emperor. The return journey was full of silent grief and guilt. John had been so gentle with her, accepting and understanding her willingness to let the past burn to keep him alive. Spending time with her husband's younger self only served to accentuate her acute sense of impending loss. She couldn't forget now, even if she tried.

When David left for his training mission with the Rangers, and the end was truly approaching, Delenn began keeping close watch on her husband, worrying over every slip of memory or physical frailty. There weren't many, but his vigor was flagging, and he was withdrawing even from his day to day supervision of the Ranger training programs. He began to complain of nightmares, and she would wake at times and silently watch him sleep, trying to calm his dreams with her touch.

Finally the day came when he asked her to send for the others. That day he wanted to watch the sun rise and she sat next to him, feeling his solid warmth, and letting the color and brilliant light burn the memory into her. Soon after that he quietly left their home, without fuss or further good-byes, except to her. No one else was awake to see.

The first night she didn't even try to sleep. John was gone, her comfort and her support no longer there. She remained awake for a long while, curled around the empty space in their bed, waiting for the pain to stop.

Eventually it faded. But she never forgot. For minutes, then hours, then days at a time, she could remember him without pain. She could smile, and laugh, and wait for the day when she could see him again. The pain subsided into a background ache, the occasional piercing sadness sufficient to keep her mindful and aware of the passage of time. The ritual of remembrance she performed every day, with a calm serenity that surprised even her. Months and years passed, and it was easy, so easy to remember. The years were filled with joy and yes, more pain, but none of that mattered because eventually they would be together again.

"As for Delenn...every morning, for as long as she lived, Delenn got up before dawn...and watched the sun come up."