Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Unshed Tears

Author: Linda Hoyland
Nominator: Larner
2011 Award Category: Drabble: Character Study - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Drabble : Length: True Drabble
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: 100 words as counted in MS Word. Even the greatest of healers cannot save everyone. Written in memory of baby Joshua.


Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 10

Having lost the one child I conceived and had another we’d been given on pre-adoptive placement taken quixotically by the state and returned to an emotionally ill birth-mother, I know too well the pain and grief attendant on losing a beloved child, and I found myself fully empathizing with the protagonists in this drabble of Linda Hoyland’s. The mother rails against the powers; the father tries to console them all that at least they are young enough to try again, and to perhaps have another child who will live and thrive. As for the healer who found he could do nothing for either the dying infant or its parents—I find I empathize even more with him. Aragorn was always my favorite character when I was younger, and here we see the portion of his life that must have hurt the worst—when in spite of all he did and all he tried, he could not save the patient’s life or spare its family the pain and grief of such a loss. How often that must have happened, and how impotent he must have felt at such times. One day he himself hopes to marry and father his own son and heir; that he cannot help another family retain their own must have caused its own share of anxiety and a special pain. This drabble touches deeply on the grimmer possibilities that we face each day of our lives—the loss of hopes and dreams, the loss of ones we hadn’t had the chance to even love as fully as they deserved or as we’d wished. I found it emotionally moving, and one that definitely resonates with my own life and experience.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 10

Tolkien took great pains to establish Aragorn as a healer as well as a warrior; and the expression of his worthiness to become king of Gondor lies in large part in his legendary healer's hands, the supposed hallmark of the king's line. Aragorn seems to have studied and practiced at least some of the healing arts enough to perform them routinely, and to effectively diagnose the unusual effects of the Black Breath in ROTK. He is successful, as he is at most of the things he has done, in saving Faramir, Eowyn, Merry, and many more victims of that sorcerous illness. But Tolkien never presents a scenario where Aragorn's healing hands are sought in vain; where a man who has succeeded in almost every endeavor cannot save one innocent life. Linda Hoyland does, in a drabble that is at once gentle and hard, and totally haunting. Thorongil is approached during his travels by a couple desperate to save their new baby. Thorongil can tell the child will die, is dying; born too prematurely to survive. Linda effectively conveys the anguish of the parents; the mother's query of 'Why' is a cry against the heartlessness of fate. Thorongil's reaction is on target; although he does not know the family, he cannot help but feel great sorrow at his inability to save the infant. It is a measure of his humanity that Thorongil will be haunted by this poor child and many others he could not save, as the reader is haunted by the sad incident.

Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 7

Dear Linda, I feel a little lost for words trying to review this ficlet. It's hard to say anything much about such a painful subject. I remember the context in which you wrote this, and I remember other people who had had to deal with this trauma. The young man means well, or perhaps he is just trying to keep his own feelings at arm's length, but in any case his attempt at consolation is bound to fail, as there is really no other possible response than grief. However much one would hope that a couple so bereaved would eventually have a living child, it should not be seen as a replacement for the one that died, in fact I feel that would rob the infant of something. The woman rightly laments the unfairness of it all. I also feel for medical staff who have to deal with this trauma repeatedly. Kudos to you for having tackled this very sensitive issue in a compassionate and touching way, even in such a brief format as this.

Reviewed by: Darkover -- Score: 2

This drabble is a sad one, but expertly written nevertheless. Not all tales of Middle-Earth have happy endings, but one as emotional as this should be read anyway. Well written.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 2

A look at the downside to healing--sometimes death is unavoidable. Poignant and touching, this is a drabble that gives readers something to think on.

Reviewed by: Nieriel Raina -- Score: 1

It is always sad when one so new to life is taken from it. A very human story.