My lovely gatekeeper Raven and Edwin had already headed back to their posts inside my sacred garden, and Casey and Cousin Eddie the Raven were not too far behind them, apparently discussing proper security and monitoring of the garden's perimeter. Andrew, Caesar Emeritus, and myself were the last three to leave the Sacred Pub, and we walked slowly toward the Library Tree in the heart of the Xanadu Forest.
None of we three spoke much along the way, mostly just a word here or there repeating what a wonderful celebration we all had at the Sacred Pub. Caesar Emeritus fit in with our family perfectly, and I was able to tell how much he was enjoying himself here. That brought me comfort indeed. Once inside the Library Tree, we sat down upon the Love Seat, but not for long. Caesar was explaining to Andrew how excited he was to have access to all the mysteries of the universe, and that he was particularly looking forward to translating the ancient Xanaduvian language. With that, Andrew and I bid a happy farewell to Caesar Emeritus and left him alone with his new and endless treasures.
As Andrew and I entered the garden gate, we didn't stop for more than a brief "Hello, we're going to Freddie's Pond of Fanciness; Andrew has something to show me." We tarried long enough, however, for Edwin the Bee to mumble something unintelligible to me, and for me to witness Cousin Eddie showing Casey some of the modifications he had made to the patrol jeep.
Even as Andrew and I arrived and sat down at the little dock of Freddie's Pond of Fanciness, I was delighted to see the entire pond was glimmering of majesty, and every bit of scum had vanished from the pond. The magical lily pads that make sounds glistened again, and the Island of Summer shone once more. Indeed the Otterman Empire had come and performed their services perfectly well while I had been away, and had received their payment in pumpernickel (coming in at just under 400 pumpernickel). I would later learn that Cousin Eddie gave them the 11th loaf as sort of a "tip" which I'm certain the Ottermans greatly appreciated.
Despite my delight, and even before Andrew had spoken, my heart was heavy--for I could feel already he was leaving. I didn't mention it to him, however, as I knew he'd explain at the proper time. Andrew filled me in on some of the lovelies that had passed on to Olympus as well: Christine was highly esteemed tending to Hera's gardens, Zach was making a wonderful living giving guitar lessons to all likes of Olympians, and beautiful sweet Cydara was now the proud owner of the finest and most fashionable of all the salons in Olympus. Brooke, Andrew, explained, had been invited to join him in Olympus, but she respectfully declined. He didn't seem troubled when he said this, which brought a bit of comfort. Andrew and I continued reminiscing for a bit longer. We spoke of songs and melodies, the Persian rug, and even Twillerbee (who he assured me is doing very well, and that he looks after her constantly).
At a point, Casey the Cardinal had stumbled along to us and hopped onto Andrew's shoulder, as if it were time for them to depart. And it was time indeed, it turned out. Andrew reminded me that long farewells were more painful; then he threw me the heartshine, blew me a kiss, and hopped along the lily pads to unlock the secret portal on the Island of Summer. Before he vanished, he yelled across the pond to me that he would always be here when I needed him, to never fear, and to look behind me.
I did look behind me, and out of nowhere was Freddie the Frog, perched proudly upon his dock once again, as a handsome and princely sentinel watching over the Pond of Fanciness. Freddie said not a single word, or even made a sound, and never once had he done so in all his time since we had known him. The strong, silent type, I guess you would say he was. I patted him gently on the head as I walked off toward the Persian rug, thinking a soft record and a nap might lighten my heavy heart.
The plan was not to be, however, as Edwin the Bee had buzzed over to me just as I was lying down, and summoned me for a visit with my sister Zoe, the River. Tears had already begun to leak out of the corners of my eyes and I was sick to my stomach, even before we had reached the River's bank. I sat down and stared into her waters while Edwin perched upon my shoulder.
Edwin began, "I remember when you were just a small boy with huge dreams." He paused for a moment, and looked out across His daughter, my sister. Then He continued, "You haven't changed so much as you think. Here we are ages later, and you are still that little boy with a heavy heart, longing and dreaming of things you've yet to grasp. Patience indeed, has never been your companion."
I looked over at Edwin, still upon my shoulder, and said nothing; for there seemed nothing for me to say. I knew He was right. Edwin is always right. So I looked back out into the water and exhaled.
Edwin interrupted my gaze and told me to look up at my cousins in the sky. He pointed at Orion's Belt, knowing well it held a special place in my heart and said, "There, your cousin in the middle...look how she shines."
Without thinking, as was common with me, I looked up and spoke, "Yes, dear Alnilam. Oh how I adore her. So beautiful, so warm and comforting."
Edwin continued, "Yes. A pearl indeed. And she loves you more than you know. Once, in another existence, you and her were much more than cousins. The two of you were one. But that was another existence. This is your home now, and that is hers."
I dropped my head, and the tears began to flow. I could no longer hold them in. I felt sick inside. Edwin was surprisingly gentle with me, and stroked my hair. Then He said so softly, "It's okay to cry, my son, for now is a proper time to do so. Remember how I told you to learn to love yourself as a spouse rather than a mistress?"
I sniffled and wiped tears from my cheeks, looking into Edwin's eyes, "Of course I remember, I'm still just trying to understand it better."
Edwin stood tall upon my shoulder, and He became less gentle, as He said, "It isn't that you don't understand, my son, for that knowledge is already inside your heart. No, your problem is your stubbornness--the stubbornness of humans you wear as a cloak. You refuse to listen, to accept these truths...for you know if you did, that you would have to let go of the things you desire most. But in letting go, you would find true freedom, you would find the eternal Love you've already been given."
I cried a bit more as I looked up at Alnilam, then down into the flowing waters of my sister. Edwin flew off of my shoulder and hovered above me, saying, "Come, lets get your foolish self back to the Persian rug, and I will tuck you in." And we did so. I was still wiping tears from my eyes as I lie down, and Edwin played a soft record as I drifted off to sleep. I whispered goodnight to my cousins the moon and the stars, and I blew a secret kiss to my dear Alnilam, the pearl of Orion's Belt.
Hope remains for the happiest of days. May gratitude prevail. Always.
Lovely of lovelies.