|Drawing by Thomas Hine - Elvish Map|
|Tom & Thomas at the Sticklepath Fireshow watching the puppets (made by Thomas) burn|
|Thomas holds one of his elf doors|
And I've valued the story of him, and found comfort in myth, as I so often do. That he is spoken of perhaps now on some kingly grey road by his Middle-Earth-inclined friends honours him and comforts me in an odd way, though I don't know whether it's true, and indeed I think Thomas himself believed death led to compost. The elf doors he made are dotted all over the village; there's one half way up our stairs which he made for us as a house warming gift and which we pass every night on the way to bed. I don't think we can say what death is, but I like the fact that Thomas left small doorways in hedges before stepping through.
And for a funeral, he had the most heartfelt and earthy handmade ceremony and celebration I've ever experienced. We gathered forest-coloured in our hundreds accompanied by at least two morris sides, Thomas laying amongst us in a handmade felt leaf cocoon as the children ran about him.
The ceremony was made by those who loved him (and there were many, many), with words and music and art. We made our way through the village to the top of the hill carrying Thomas between us, as overhead flew birds made by the children, in honour of the sky burial he had wished for.
On the hilltop, overlooking the land he loved so much, beside the hill where he and Lunar married, our friend was laid in the earth. I was supposed to play music at this point but failed miserably to summon any coherent tunes through my tears. The children sat and watched and placed earth and gifts in the grave along with the rest of us, and we walked back down the hill to share food and memories and music and art.
Lunar now has a hard hill to climb, but not alone, and I am already inspired and staggered at the grace and strength and wisdom with which she has stepped out on this stony path. Artful wordsmith that she is, she has told beautifully and strongly of their loss. There was great truth in words she spoke at a gathering we had the day after Thomas died: she said that though his heart did not last many years, it seemed wiser to measure a heart in love rather than in time, and going by that measure, he was an ancient, ancient man.
I leave you with Thomas's words about himself, which I always liked, written for his emporium of elf doors: