It is an odd thing that takes place, Faramir, when one passes from the Real World in which you still reside and into the realm in which I find myself. No body. No legs or feet. Neither arms nor hands ... nor fingers that might grasp a quill and transcribe thoughts into words upon parchment.
Only the spirit remains ... and this dead Steward's mind continues to be capable of thought. In this realm, somehow, I am able to take in deep breaths of free air again, and these breaths, it would seem, have succeeded in cleansing and purifying my formerly contaminated soul.
Yes ... thought. And still, somehow, much more than that. It is as though I'm seeing a pool of clear water. And, as I gaze upon its surface, I can see things that were ... things that are ... some things that have not yet come to pass ... and some things that will never come to pass ....
But mostly ... what I see is you, my son. I see how I thought of you in life. How I ridiculed you in life. And how I belittled you ... humiliated you. And how I ....
Yes, it was always Boromir I loved and respected ... it was always Boromir whom I regarded as a man worthy of being the son of this Steward of Gondor; Boromir ... now there was a Man of Númenor! Yes ... he was. Boromir. And it was always Boromir, whose very presence managed to cloud my sight as with a dark shadow that hid you from my view. It was always Boromir I had seen ... trusted ... cherished ... loved ....
Ah ... but you knew, Faramir. You knew. You told me that you knew. You told me when you said that I wished that your places had been exchanged ... that you had died and Boromir had lived. You didn't ask me that, Faramir ... you told me that! Yes. You knew. And all I said in response -- as though you needed confirmation of the fact! -- was: “Yes ... I wish that.”
Oh, Faramir ... how clever was that remark? How proper ... how ....
As true as it is that no father should have to bury his son, it is more true that no son should have to hear words such as those -- words that carry such an implication! -- pass from the lips of his father.
Even after your brother was gone, was ... dead ... it was only Boromir I could see in a manner that would bring a smile to my lips ... a glimmer to my eyes ... brief though that smile and glimmer might be. But you knew that, Faramir. You saw that, too; did you not?
How that must have hurt you ... must have caused you immeasurable anguish! I may as well have ignored you altogether. But I did even more than ignore you ... even worse than ignore you. I supplemented my disgust with you by sending you to what I believed would be certain death! Yes, much must be risked in war ... but to so foolishly risk loosing a second son?
Ah ... but you, Faramir; did I even think of you as my son? As a Son of Gondor?
Still, somehow, you managed to think of me as a father. And you said to me -- begged of me! -- “If I should return, think better of me, Father.” All I could do was reply with more cynicism. All I did was place a lame, heartless condition upon your struggles to please me ... your efforts to be respected as a Son of Gondor ... to be treated as a son of mine. All I could say was, “That will depend on the manner of your return.”
I gaze deeper still into the pool -- this pool that may or may not be truly before me now -- and I see a Figure in White assuring you that I love you ... telling you that I will remember before the end. Yes. He knew, Faramir. He was correct. And I did remember. It took a severe blow to the head, but I did remember ... I remembered then, only then, that I loved you. And I looked down upon your form from that pyre of wood and oil ... I gazed into your eyes ... and, as unbelievable as it seemed to me at that moment, I saw that you could love me ... I realized that you did love me. I remembered ....
But, sadly, I also realized that my love for you would never be enough ... for I would never again be able to love myself.
And so it was, as confused as I was within myself and as wretched as I had been to you, I moaned. I moaned because of the love I saw in your eyes ... the love I had long since cast aside. And then, I shrieked ... not because of the external flames that were beginning to sear my flesh, but because of the internal fires that had already consumed and charred my heart beyond all recognition! And then I ran! I ran from you. I ran from my only remaining son. I ran from all I had once held close to that now blackened heart!
I ran from ... myself!
And so I, Denethor, son of Ecthelion -- I, Denethor, unworthy Steward of Gondor! -- ran ... and then jumped. And then I fell ... I fell to my death while countless thousands upon the fields far below were fighting and struggling, suffering wounds, and ... dying ... dying for much more noble causes than I could ever again possess!
I wish that I had some way of knowing that you might know all of this, Faramir. I wish that there were some way I could tell you all these things. I wish that I might scribble all of this on a parchment that you might hold in your hands ... that you might read. I wish that I could speak once again, so that you might hear me say: “Yes, Faramir. I did love you. I do love you. I remember ... now. And I shall never again forget it!” And, perhaps most important of all, I wish that I could say: “Please, Faramir, my son ... forgive me.”
I look into this pool, and I believe you know I love you ... I believe you would forgive me. But I can not be certain. I can not do any of those things now ... not from within this realm.
Sadly, all I can do here is think. And as I think of all these things ... I want to say yet again:
“Yes ... I wish that .... ”