"I love him."
"I know! He's delicious." JenJen purred.
"I need him. I couldn't breath if I lost him." I groaned.
"You're silly." She smiled. "Marry him. You know you will."
"Why am I making this a big deal?" I was crying as JenJen flicked her mithra tail anxiously and petted my head.
"You'll be fine. You just need to let yourself be happy without punishing yourself with this girl stuff. It doesn't do anyone any good." Zerokb added as he nibbled some grapes near me. "I don't know why woman have to make such a big deal out of everything."
"Marriage is forever. This is a big deal." I insisted. "I'm talking about the rest of my life and with a Galka and my first husband was a hume. Why can't I fall in love with my own species like a normal Elvaan woman?"
"My brother Kjarbo would have you. We would be sisters!" Jenjen grinned. "l'll be happy to take Gurok off your paws. I can't believe he makes you breakfast every day. It's super cute."
Kjarbo was her brother by adoption and a good honest man. He would make a perfect husband for some lucky girl someday.
"I'm delicious too you know!" Zerokb complained and tugged Jenjen's tail.
She jumped up, pushing me over and launched herself at Zerokb. They rolled across the floor in a storm of laughter and tickling. I couldn't help but smile and relax my mood. He was so crazy about her. I wondered if they might be the next annoyingly cute couple in my linkshell.
"Crazy crying girl over here needing consoling." I announced with a wet flushed faced smile.
"You need medication." Zerokb teased.
They both ran at me and I stood to get away. Tackling me before I could get very far, we all bounced against my bed laughing. I hugged them both. "You two are the best. I'd share my cookies with you any day."
"You have boobs." Zerokb informed me while we all hugged.
I smacked him playfully and sat up. "I cannot believe you some days Zerokb. You are definitely strange enough to be a dancer."
"Yes, but why are you really going crazy over marrying Gurok?" He asked, distracting me from his strange attempt to lighten my mood before bringing me back down. "Do you have another man on the side? Need to keep the options open? Don't want to upset the other boyfriends? Secretly in love with me? You can tell me."
"Stop that!" I complained and paused. "The only other isn't alive anymore and yes, I want him back and yes, he's on my mind and in my dreams and haunting me. I see his form in the corner of my eye when I wake up in the morning and sleepily forget he's not there. I see a man from behind in heavy white armor and it makes my heart hurt wishing he would turn around and be my Brodie. I still have another man in my life. What if Gurok doesn't want to share me with him?"
"He already has for a long time." Zerokb said somberly. "He knows. He loves you anyways. He tries to understand. I can see it. For all his faults, he's not going to hold that against you."
"Mood killer." Jenjen said with big wet eyes.
"You know, we never had a proper funeral for Brodie. You weren't ready to accept that he might not have somehow survived. Maybe it's time." Zerobk suggested.
I hadn't even considered it, part of my reluctance to let go I suppose. No one would push me into it so I didn't. Now it felt right. To move on to the next chapter in my life, I needed to finally close the one past. Not to forget or abandon, but to open myself up to the life I still had to live.
I nodded. "Yes. Tomorrow as the sun is setting on the beach. Will you spread the word for anyone who might want to come so I can focus on the eulogy?"
They both agreed and excused themselves for rushed preparations. Some people would have to travel a long way, so they needed to start right away.
Running the entire way, I was winded when I found Gurok and threw myself on him.
"What's wrong?" he asked looking concerned.
"I need your help. I want to have a funeral for Brodie tomorrow. I want you to get a lot of cookies and drinks for me. Can you?" I looked up at him while I clung.
He kissed my head. "Ofcourse. It's been so long, I didn't think you wanted to ever have one. This is a good idea." He nodded and looked thoughtful for a moment before continuing. "Anything else you want me to do? I can bring you dinner tonight."
"Dinner would be perfect." I smiled. I adored him.
Belly down on my bed, I wrote while I kicked my bare feet behind me. I hadn't been to many funerals, so I didn't feel confident that I knew how to write a eulogy, but I knew whatever I did would help bring peace and that was what was important.
Knocking on my door startled me awake from a dream of sitting silently on the beach with Brodie on one side of me and Gurok on the other peacefully watching the sunset together. "Come in." I called, trying not to sound like I had fallen asleep.
Gurok lumbered in with a bag full of groceries and a smile. "I'm guessing you haven't eaten anything but cookies all day so I brought hardy muscle building food." He didn't wait to go straight for the table to start preparing food and I wondered if he felt at all uncomfortable with this all.
I came at him and he lifted his arm to pull me in close to him. "I glad you're here." I smiled.
He kissed me and stroked my face with his thumb. "I can't ask you to marry me when I said I would."
My mouth sprung open to protest and he moved his finger over my lips. "Let me finish." He smiled. "I still think we are made for each other and I will ask you to marry me, but I see now that you need to be the one to let me know when you're ready to be asked. I didn't mean to upset you and I only gave you the two days because I thought it was the surprise that made your head spin. I thought that if you knew when to expect it wouldn't make you feel panicked." He lifted his finger and kissed my lips.
"I love you." I said.
"I know." He said with a grin. Gurok squeezed me playfully until I thought my ribs might crack then we got back to making dinner together. It was right.
A fiery pink sky with streaks of gilded clouds painted the sky. Cool ocean breezes gently caressed my cheek in contrast to the warm summer air. Warmth filled my heart as I looked out over the retreating tide even though tears still fell silently down from my eyes. Over two years had passed since that day and it was past time for this farewell. I picked up my candle and turned to face the gathering.
Tonight is a night for healing. Not only for me, but for everyone who loved this humble kind paladin.
True to his calling, he was a protector and a hero. He was neither famous, nor flashy in his work, but when there was a wrong to be righted, he was there. When a friend needed help, he came, no matter the hour.
I remember when I met him so long ago. Always the hero, he literally swept me out of the mud and carried me away on his steed like a fairy tale hero. He won my heart months later with a shy laugh and the corniest pick up lines you ever heard as he helped me hunt the Carby ruby on a beach like this one. He made me laugh and I couldn't help but fall in love with his warmth and naked sincerity.
His death was tragic and too soon, though I doubt he regrets losing his life to save another if in the end we all must move on. It was just his way to protect. I hope he looks over us now with a pride and continues to watch over those he loves.
I looked back in the distance to the men I had seen earlier. I knew they were here because they still suspected my child Hope not only lived but was the child of a hume and a threat to their government. Because of them, I couldn't mention our child. It made my heart sad but I knew he would understand. I opened the paper I had written a poem on and read.
Death by Khalil Gibran
Then Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death."
And he said: You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
I knelt down at the end of the long pier and kissed the little wax boat in my hands. "Love, I will hold you in my heart until we meet again and I can hold you in my arms once more."
Setting the floating candle into the retreating tide I watched it drift away for a moment before standing and walking back to the beach. Everyone had a chance to say a last goodbye and let their candle go until the darkening sea was filled with beautiful bobbing white lights. I didn't stay on the pier to listen to the private farewells.
I went to Gurok instead, to dry my tears on his good white shirt. I noticed that even to a funeral, his weapons where strapped across his back and I was glad that he was ever ready.
He just smiled his encouragement and held me firmly. "This is a healing moment for everyone. I'm proud of you my brave little Elvaan."
I couldn't fathom what it must be like for him to be here for this turning point in my life. I couldn't wrap my mind around how he must feel to be here and reminded that I had loved someone before him so fully, yet my adoration for Gurok still filled my heart so abundantly that it felt like it might burst. I was just grateful that my giant wall of a galka could be here with me with such grace and understanding. I needed Gurok. Even if I never touched another shinny for the rest of my life, I would feel wealthier than a queen for being loved by him.