Warning: This story was written in memory of my father who passed away in 2004. At the service, all sorts of people who I know meant well keep coming up to me and asking, “How are you?” What I wanted to say and what I ended up saying are worlds apart. This story kinda pulls from my feelings at the time. I’ve been told it’s a tearjerker. The title comes from the song “Into the West” by Annie Lennox, from “The Return of the King” soundtrack.


All Souls Must Pass

Sharon H



Admiral Lee Crane stood, braced against the wind, feeling the slow drizzle against his face, feeling the moisture of the misty rain bead up and slid down his chin. It seemed like even Mother Nature was grieving, with her steel gray clouds and her cold tears falling from the sky. With a long shaky sigh, Lee bent down and brushed the mud off the marker, long fingers gliding over the letters and numbers.


He knew someday it would end like this. He had always thought he would be ready for it—that somehow he could prepare himself. He'd been deluding himself. You can't prepare yourself for something like this, not when it happens suddenly, unexpectedly.


Lee took another long, deep breath and rose to his feet. He jammed his hands deep into the pockets of his coat, trying not to let the despair he felt overwhelm him. He wanted nothing more than to drop to his knees and howl his grief to the world, vent his frustrations on the unfairness, the injustice and the evil that still just waited around every corner. Instead he just stood there. Rock steady and still. Wouldn't do for an admiral to have mud stains on the knees of his dress blues.


He had the Institute now. He'd been Director for several years since Nelson made the decision to step down. Lee always felt he was just looking after things, that one day Nelson would change his mind and kick Lee out of the office that had once been his. That wasn't going to happen now.


Something touched him on his shoulder and Lee felt his heart jump and skip a beat. He turned, instinctively knowing who it was and berating himself for acting like a jumpy ten year old.


"Are you ready?" Captain Charles Morton asked, the deeper timbre as familiar to Lee as his own. Lee looked across to his oldest friend, considering the question.


Was he ready? Ready to lead the Institute, ready to see the admiral's dreams and ambitions come to life for another generation? Ready to move on with out the brilliance of that mind, the fire of his convections? Despite his years and the star on each collar, Lee Crane felt like a lost child, that same child he's been when his own father had died when he was fourteen. All souls must pass, nothing can change that.


He felt Chip's fingers tighten on his arm, offering all the support he could. "Lee?"


"I don't know, Chip. I just don't know, " Lee whispered, knowing he could show this side of his turmoil to his closest friend and not feel ashamed.


"You're not alone in this, Lee. You never have been. Come on. Let’s get out of the rain before we both get soaked."


A weary Admiral Crane let Captain Morton steer him to the direction of the waiting car. From the driver side, Chief Kowalski stepped out and opened the back passenger door for the two officers.


Lee paused, and turned one last time to the bare, raw patch of ground covered with mounds of now wilting flowers.


Chip kept one eye on his friend, the other on the sky overhead, the rain growing steadier with each passing moment. Just before Crane eased his lanky frame into the back, Chip saw Lee wipe a stray raindrop from his face.


At least Chip thought it was a raindrop.





Into The West

Written by Annie Lennox, Fran Walsh, and Howard Shore

Performed by Annie Lennox

Lay down,
your sweet and weary head.
Night is falling.
You have come to journey’s end.

Sleep now, and dream
of the ones who came before.
They are calling,
from across a distant shore.

Why do you weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see.
All of your fears will pass away.
Safe in my arms,
you’re only sleeping.

What can you see,
on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea,
a pale moon rises.
The ships have come,
to carry you home.

And all will turn,
to silver glass.
A light on the water.
All souls pass.

Hope fades,
Into the world of night.
Through shadows falling,
Out of memory and time.

Don’t say,
We have come now to the end.
White shores are calling.
You and I will meet again.
And you’ll be here in my arms,
Just sleeping.

What can you see,
on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea,
a pale moon rises.
The ships have come,
to carry you home.

And all will turn,
to silver glass.
A light on the water.
Grey ships pass
Into the West.