I walk through the familiar meadow, wandering aimlessly through what was once a place of beauty and tranquility to me. As always, the tall, fragrant flowers brush against my skirts as I move, releasing their gentle perfume upon the breeze. Yet now, I am oblivious to their sweet scent, oblivious to the peace and wonder of my surroundings. I do not know how long I have wandered this place, be it moments, days, years. But it matters not. For what is time when eternity stretches forth like the endless blanket of space?
I reach the precipice of a cliff, and along the far wall of the valley, a thundering waterfall empties itself into the gaping chasm below. At last, I can go no farther, and it is with a heavy heart that I sit down at the cliff's edge to wait, the tall blades of grass tickling the flesh of my bare arms as I stare into the abyss below me. The mist from the waterfall caresses my face, its dampness mingling with my tears.
It is these tears that have been my only companion thus far on my lonely journey, and I am therefore surprised to suddenly feel the presence of another. Curious, I turn to see a figure approaching. Her kind face is familiar, although I have not looked upon its visage for many long years. She smiles at me as she grows nearer, but still I dare not believe it to be true. I am cautious, perhaps not trusting my own memories of this woman I loved so dearly. When she reaches me, she sits beside me on the meadow floor, her eyes alive with the same life and energy I remember from my childhood, and I feel my body begin to quake with emotion.
I have missed her so.
"Is it truly you?" I ask, my voice betraying my wonder and confusion as I stare at the figure of my beloved grandmother, Winama.
Her smile grows sad, and she shakes her head slowly. "No, my child," she answers. "But she is waiting for you."
I stare at the woman before me in confusion. "But?I don't understand?"
"It is easier this way," she explains patiently. "To be met with an image of the familiar, the beloved. It makes the transition less frightening, especially for those who are hurting?still holding on to what has been left behind."
I contemplate these words and the fog of confusion lifts as I at last understand. Anakin spoke often of the Living Force, of that mystical energy that both surrounds and is a part of all things, those both living and those...who have passed on to become one with its energy.
As if sensing my thoughts, the old woman, this physical embodiment of the Force, smiles at me in approval. "Yes," she whispers.
I inhale with a shuddering breath, gathering my strength and courage. "You said she is waiting for me, my grandmother?"
Once more the woman nods, her gaze wandering to the endless blue skies that lie beyond the valley and its towering waterfall. "She awaits you. She longs to see you again when you have completed your journey."
"My journey?" My brow furrows in confusion. "But if this is not?where am I?"
"That is a question only you can answer." The woman gestures at the meadow surrounding us. "The place, the time?it is different for every being, but it is understandable to choose the familiar, the comforting. Yet you must understand that it is only your own pain that holds you here." She touches my cheek, her eyes filled with compassion. "You need only to let go."
I flinch from her touch as the familiar tears spill forth once more. "I can't?" I whisper, my fingers digging into the edge of the grassy precipice as if I am clinging to a lifeline. "Please?if only I could see him, speak to him once more. I could?"
"No," the Force answers firmly. "It is not possible. The veil between the dead and the living is a fragile one, the chasm too great."
"Then I will wait for him here," I respond with newfound strength.
The old woman sighs, and her eyes regard me with pity. We sit together in silence. Again, I know not if years have passed or merely hours when she again speaks at last. "Padm??you must accept forgiveness. You must find peace. It is the only way."
"I should have been the strong one." I shake my head firmly. "I should have rejected his advances. It was my duty to?I should have done what was right, what was best for him. But...I loved him..." I pause as the ache in my heart becomes too much to bear. Yet I welcome it. For it is my penance for the pain and suffering I have caused.
"It is a path he chose," the woman says with an air of finality. Yet in her voice, I hear the Force weeping for its lost son.
I stare down at the churning waters below, and in the roar of the falls I still hear the screams of the younglings as his blade sears and pierces their flesh. And in the crash of the waves, I hear the cries of my own children, my precious babies, worlds apart yet forever linked by what they have lost.
And by what they must reclaim.
"There is still good in him," I whisper defiantly, speaking not to the Force but to myself. It is all I have left to believe in, to cling to?
The woman slowly shakes her head in defeat. Rising, she continues to walk along the edge of the cliff, her gaze trained on the gaping chasm below us. "You must ask yourself this, my child. If you could indeed speak to Anakin, just once more," she calls to me as her body begins to dissolve, becoming one with the watery mist. "What would you wish to say to him? What words could help you at last find the peace you seek?"
She is gone now, not awaiting my answer, and once more I am left alone here in my self-imposed exile to ponder her words.
I close my eyes, and I see him again, standing before me, brave and strong. It is a vision, not of the monster he has become, but of the man I know him to be. I open my eyes to stare at the blue skies beyond as I think of my grandmother, of those who have gone before me.
You need only let go, the Force whispers softly.
My decision made, I settle myself more comfortably on the meadow floor as I prepare to continue my lonely vigil for as long as it takes.
"I would tell him that I will always love him," I answer to no one but the winds. "And he will find me here, awaiting him, at journey's end."
Original cover by Gina. HTML formatting copyright 2008 TheForce.Net LLC.