Today I should be helping my best friend celebrate his fiftieth birthday. Instead, I mourn his passing and hold close his memory.
Robert Brent Smith was born May 17, 1966 and left this world for the next January 27, 2015.
Not a day has passed that he has not been on my mind…
This morning, as I walked outside preparing to drive into work, I was struck by a distant memory. Maybe it was the heavy dew and that cool, country air that sparked it, or the rabbit that sat under the catalpa watching me with a wary eye, but the memory came just the same.
Brent and I were camped out at the Mississinewa, in the old primitives. Our campsite was the one closest to the old circle of stone, on uneven ground, but we favored it because a forest trail cut from that site to the shelter house then down to that hallowed place.
We’d spent the night before watching a meteor shower on mushrooms and come that morning, the memory that struck me before work, we were cooking eggs and bacon over a campfire.
There was a rabbit there too, sniffing wet grass and hopping along the edge of our campsite. Brent knelt down and tried to coax it over, offering it some food, but the rabbit wasn’t having it and bounded off into the forest.
Brent commented that he wished he was a rabbit. I said I’d rather be a wolf, a rabbit’s life was short and rarely ends well. Brent just smiled and said, “yeah, but while you lived it would be so peaceful and everything you ever wanted would be at the end of your nose.”
Happy Birthday, Brent… I love you, old friend.
The world is grey, the mountains old,
The forge’s fire is ashen cold;
No harp is wrung, no hammer falls,
The darkness dwells in Durin’s halls;
The shadow lies upon his tomb
In Moria, in Khazad-dûm.
But still the sunken stars appear
In dark and windless Mirrormere;
There lies his crown in water deep,
Till Durin wakes again from sleep.
—JRR Tolkien, “Durin”