(Originally titled, "A Note From The Author", this chapter was deleted on 5/27/04 just after I renewed my membership for six months, as it was believed from the title to be a violation of the rule against correspondence between authors and reviewers which is not allowed on the site. The story is the same as the original, and only the title and the first paragraph have been changed to eliminate that confusion. Sorry for the mixup!)

Chapter 24

The Song That Never Ends

I am so thankful to all of our readers who wrote to express their condolences. The outpouring of love from all of them is what has kept me going this past week. It made me sad not to be able to respond personally to each of them, but I'm just trying to keep going every day right now. Life is certainly not the same without him.

This morning dawned bright and clear, a fine Christmas morning by most standards. The three of us spent the day as many of you probably did, wading through mounds of wrapping paper, picking through the ribbons and shirt boxes to see what was salvageable for another day, trying on gifts to see how they fit both our physiques and our personalities.

Little Pip comes to me and hugs me, thanking me for her presents, especially the Harry Potter movie video, and showing me the Pippin and Merry bookmark she found under the tree from Legolas. "Mommy," she asks, "did you get everything you wanted?"

"Yes," I lie. Everyone knows all that I really wanted for Christmas. The Impossible. The Undeliverable. Even Santa Claus couldn't fix it this time.

As we stand there, she and I, the soft strains of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' come wafting through the air from where it's playing on the radio in the other room. I don't know why, but even though the words are really reassuring, the melancholy tune to the song always makes me want to cry. How can I possibly have a 'Merry Little Christmas' when I feel this way?

As the song ends, I think to myself, The only thing worse than that song right now would be 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'. I must be sharing clairvoyance with the radio disc jockey, because it is no sooner in my head than the musical notes are drifting my way.

I'll be home for Christmas

You can count on me. . . .

My thoughts are interrupted by the shrill ring of the phone in the kitchen. Yes Dear goes to answer it.

"It's for you," he says.

I just really don't want to talk to anyone right now, I think, as I take the receiver from him. "Hello?' I ask, trying to sound like I am having a good time on this joyous day.

"al? Kin u com git me?"

As the room spins and I hit the floor in slow motion, my last coherent thought is, Good Lord, how did he ever remember the phone number?

To Be Continued, in "The Unfinished Tales Of Legolas Greenleaf"

Yes, TreeHugger, there REALLY IS a Santa Claus. He comes with as many names as Aragorn Estel Stick-at-naught Strider Telcontar Elrondion Longshanks son of Arathorn Wingfoot.

Merry Christmas, everyone.