I know what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling right now, sitting there on the sofa, going back over memories you’d rather forget. You think that everything you fought for, everything you kept yourself alive for, died along with me. You think that you failed me.
I can still see you, coming towards me through the wreckage, your eyes burning with fear…even though I used to think you didn’t know the meaning of the word. You were always the one making me feel better when my stomach had butterflies and my heart was pounding like a drum. I used to think you were invincible, like most little sisters do, I suppose.
Now I know…you were just taking it all inside yourself, absorbing it so it wouldn’t hurt me, never show how crippled it was making you. Even the strongest solder can only take so many blows for another before they find themselves crumpled in the dust, bruised and bleeding, just like any other human being.
But in that last conscious moment of mine, just before the explosion took me out of this world of pain, I saw you come face to face with your worst fear: losing the one you had always had to be strong for, and with me, the will to be strong at all.
And now you can’t see what any of it was worth.
From the day of the reaping, when you took my place in the Games, you had me and mom in mind. We were the ones you were trying to protect, trying to keep safe, at any cost. But you were the Girl on Fire, and you set our whole world on fire.
Like the games of dominos we played when we were small, you never meant for the pieces to fall the way they did, or cause the chain reaction that put a whirlwind beneath your wings and turned you into the Mockingjay. But it happened. And you had no choice but to take flight through the ring of fire.
I am gone from you now. And you look back over the carnage of the years, and see only a cruel fate that made you its unwilling tribute in the place of someone you ultimately could not save. All of it, you think, was an empty game.
But think again, Katniss!
Do any of us act with full knowledge of what must come? Do we not all have some unseen purpose guiding our flight? Are we not all at the mercy of some greater mercy?
You thought you were going to save me; instead, you saved the world. You saved generations of little sisters to come, of children barely grown who would have been forced to butcher each other in the arenas of the future.
But the arenas have been torn down now. The statues of tyranny have been toppled. The blood has been washed from the fields. Flowers can grow there again. Yes, flowers, Katniss. Even primroses.
But am I so tiny, so insignificant, that I could not, in my own small way, change history? Yes, I have changed history…by dying as I lived, lending a healing hand to a broken land. I am not to be pitied. I have loved, fully and freely, passing from light into darkness into light.
If I was a frail flower on earth, I at least gave a glimpse of things beyond words, the gentle brush of petals and fragrance of an early spring morning. Things like that pass in the twinkling of an eye, and yet never truly pass away at all. They are like music, and no death can touch a song.
Katniss, listen to me. I want you to do something for me. It won’t be easy for you, but then nothing you’ve ever done for me has been easy. I want you to forgive them. Yes, all of them. The living and dead who tore you apart inside.
Snow. Coin. Crane. Flickerman.
All of them.
Write their names out on paper if you must. Look at them until you’re eyes burn. Let them burn until the tears come. And then burn the paper, and with it the hate eating away at your heart. And forgive them.
They were sick, Katniss. Sick to the point of death, for they could not see, they could not feel, they could not love. They are the ones to be most pitied.
And then…there is Gale.
He did not know what he was doing. He never meant to do me harm, although the same fire that burned inside you blinded him to the revenge he took against the innocent. But he is suffering for his actions every day. And he has never stopped loving you. Make peace with him, and do not let him suffer for the past any more.
Last but not least, you must forgive yourself.
There was nothing you could have done to stop me from going. We each have our own time set aside; mine had simply run its course. I could not have been anywhere else that day but where I was, doing anything else but what I was doing. I had to be there, as did you.
But please don’t think I’ve forgotten you. Don’t think I have stopped holding your hand. I still do, every time the tears fall on your pillow, or onto Buttercup’s matted fur. That dear old cat seems to sense me more than you do when I make my visits. I can tell, because his ears prick up.
But I think, sometimes, when you are all alone, and the curtains rustle in the wind, you can feel me stepping through. Love is timeless, and penetrates everything, like light through the window. It has no weight, no mass, and yet always is, just as I am always with you. The time will come when we will be together in the light, and you will know me fully again.
But for now, you must believe, dear Katniss. You must hold on to hope and go on living. There is so much beauty yet to be seen, and felt, and loved. You must go on being strong for those who need you: Peeta, whose shattered heart you must mend, and your little children, who must know the joy of innocent games.
Remember me, but please do not allow the thought of my face to constantly bring you pain. Tears are sometimes a great good, as is the rain, but too much floods the ground. There must also be sunlight. That’s how I wish to be remembered. I wish to bring a smile to your face.
I’m safe now, Katniss, safer than you ever could have made me here. No one can hurt me now. And come the morning light, we’ll both be together forever, safe and sound.
Avellina Balestri (aka Rosaria Marie) is one of the founding members and the Editor-in-Chief of The Fellowship of the King, a literary magazine with a strong Tolkienite influence (which, by the way, is open to submissions). She reads and writes extensively, and eagerly seeks out the deeper spiritual significance of popular fandoms such as The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Trek, Star Wars, and The Hunger Games. And yes, she does have a soft spot in her heart for classic Disney movies, The Princess Bride, and Merlin 😉 She is also a recording artist, singing traditional folk songs and her own compositions as well as playing the penny whistle and bodhran drum. She draws her inspiration from the Ultimate Love and Source of Creativity, and hopes to share that love and creativity with others.