My solitary wanderings have given me the opportunity to explore parts of the Shire most hobbits know little of. Iíve found favorite places to set a while and think or read and occasionally write where I know I need not worry about being disturbed, except on the occasion when Iím followed by Merry or Pippin and even on occasion by Sam. But I find I donít mind their company. At first it felt like an intrusion, Iíd grown accustomed to being alone but it wasnít long before I found myself inviting them along and gladly accepting their invitations to be involved in their adventures on occasion. Itís a bit odd really considering our age differences. But then Iím used to being considered odd.
When my parents died I was 12 with no brothers or sisters. Being an only child at such an age was considered odd indeed. I remember my aunts and uncles at Brandy Hall often commenting on how I should have several siblings by now. I remember once when the comment was made to my parents. Iíll not soon forget the look on their faces. It had never occurred to me that they werenít happy with just me. Mumís face got so sad and Da looked so angry. It was then I started to watch other families more closely. I must have been eight or nine at the time.
But in the back of my mind I wondered about families and I became much more aware. I became aware that we didnít associate much with other families; it was always just Mum, Da and me. My world was never the same after that day. I was ever aware that there should have been something more and I wondered if it was my fault there wasnít. I sometimes even wondered if my parents were sad that I was the only one. Were they disappointed there was only me? I determined to be the best I could, to always behave and be brave, hoping I could somehow be enough. Both would tell me what a good hobbit I was, and I felt in some measure success.
And yet, I always felt loved. Mum and Da always did things with me. We were always going on picnics and walks. They spent hours teaching me about the Shire. They tried to teach me to never be afraid of something new or different but to look on such things as adventures. And the lessons took, at first.
I try not to think of that fateful night. It started out as any other. Mum and Da were off on an adventure, well, by hobbit standards anyway. Uncle Bilbo has since educated me more fully. Mum and Da didnít believe in fearing anything. They taught me carefully that if I was afraid I was to admit it and move on and to never let fear be my guide. To this day, I donít really know what happened, I expect I never will. All I can say for certain now is that Mum and Da were lost in the river and I wonder what I could have done to save them. If only I had been older so that theyíd taken me along. I had begged them to take me with them, but they said it was time for me to be in bed, with a wink from Da to Mum. So they went without me. Mum and Da had been talking of going out in the boat and though I knew enough to know this wasnít common still it seemed like an adventure, why did I have to go to bed?
Auntie Esmeralda says I only would have died too. There are times when I wished I had. She says I was spared for a purpose, but what? How I wish I could change what happened but then I remember their words, ďDonít let fear be your guide.Ē Sometimes the battle rages inside me between my fear and me. Of course, I realize these thoughts can chase themselves around in my head for hours and days and I end up nowhere but tired. So I try to put them aside, but itís days like today when I wish Mum and Da were here, and it seems that the past most haunts me.