(I have ranted about this to my friend just now, but I have all these feels and I need to share my pain with all those of you who care to suffer with me)
I have never noticed this until now , but right at the beginning, when Gandalf comes to Bag End, Bilbo has a map of Erebor lying on the table. And I just….!
It’s been sixty years.
All this time and the map is still lying on the table. He might have just looked at because he’s been planning to leave the Shire. Because he wants to see the mountains.
But that map is framed. It hasn’t been resting in some chest to be forgotten about. It must have hung on the wall somewhere.
Just imagine him, every morning, having his breakfast (and second breakfast and Elevensies) sitting at that table, looking at that map. And every morning, it all comes rushing back to him:
Fili’s laughter and Kili’s cheerfulness. Dwalin’s grumpy murmuring as he tends to his weapons. Bofur’s stories, and the sound of his flute. The way Bombur seemed to light up when talking about recipes and a good meal.
And clearest of them all is the sound of Thorin’s voice. The rare but warm smiles he seemed to reserve for those dear to him, and how Bilbo had been proud to count himself as one of them.
It hurts. It hurts so much. In the beginning because Bilbo finds himself thinking ‘what if’; if there had been anything he could have done better, if he could have saved them.
Later it’s because he has realised that there is nothing that could have saved the three of them. They died too soon, too young, and Bilbo was helpless and knowing this is perhaps even worse than the wondering.
So Bilbo remembers. It hurts, and he lets it, because not remembering is worse.
Because they were his friends, his family, and they were real and alive, and if Bilbo forgets that (-forgets them-) there will be no hobbit left to do so.
They deserve to be remembered.
So he tells their story to all those who want to hear it, and even to all those who don’t. It’s the only way Bilbo knows to honour their memory. He owes them that.
So he sings their song. Says the words and writes them down and whispers them to himself before he goes to bed and when he eats and when he regards that map - again and again and again.
Because if nothing else counts, all the world will know that he is sorry.