I lay here on my cold back as the relenting winter wind floods through my open window. I find it amusing that, even though it could be a mere coincidence, my life is slowly draining as the oak trees that are dotted across this land lose their autumn leaves in a similar way. Come to think of it, life is like an oak tree. You start out young, fragile, and broken easily. With time, you begin to grow. You rise up, and branch out. Then the leaves come in. For an oak tree, they are its beauty. It is also their being. Without their leaves, they would rot up and die from the lack of food given to them from their leaves. They are simple, yet complicated. Somewhat lacking, but efficient. But for a pony's life? Your life? My life? Those leaves are the ones we call a certain title. The coldness of the Earth we walk upon is outweighed by those we call this title. Those that bring us a warmth from the cool ground of our Earth. They hold special rooms in our hearts. They never step in our way, unless we are falling. Instead of falling into the depths of our bitter Earth, we are caught with a hoof of warmth. We take that hoof and stand up. Then we walk. Do not walk in front of that pony, for he may not follow. Do not walk behind that pony, because he may not lead. Instead, walk beside him, so that he may be your friend. It takes a single rose to make your garden. And a single friend? Your world. Why? I'll tell you.
Ever since I was just a filly, well, practically a filly, I have been researching friendship. My mentor, Princess Celestia, gazed upon me as my tree grew and branched out, but the leaves never came. What are these leaves I keep referring to? Stick with me, and your questions will be answered. Princess Celestia saw that my leaves were not coming in, and they never would unless I left that royal library filled with dusty old tomes of the ancient times, filled with valuable knowledge that I once ached to consume. So, she sent me out. I left my only home, and moved to a quaint little country town by the name of Ponyville.
The day I arrived in Ponyville, I grew my leaves. They finally popped into my life like gophers out of their holes. But these weren't ordinary leaves that most ponies grew. These leaves were steel, but without its coldness. They were hard steel, but warm as the protective bright star that shines down on us daily. Why were these leaves so special? Because we became forever bonded through six powerful elements. We all represented our element proudly, and we lived by their name. These were the Elements of Harmony. Loyalty, Honesty, Generosity, Laughter, Kindness, and Magic. Even in death, the Elements by which my friends lived are etched into their being. I still live, even if for a short time longer, by my Element. I have lived by it, and I will die soon by it.
Those leaves went through many winters, yet they never once died or fell out. They dried out once, long ago, but they were watered again from the reunification of our Elements, when we defeated a mad, chaos-driven being named Discord. He separated us, and attempted to crunch our leaves into tiny pieces like broken glass. But our leaves were too powerful, too strong. Our leaves bonded together after a slight setback, and banished the being to cold stone.
My leaves remained in its golden era for many years. During those years, I absorbed every single lesson of friendship that anypony could ever possibly learn. Except one. But that can come later.
My lessons? Too many to count. But it would be my delight to share some of them with you.
One of my first friendship lessons I ever learned was greatly important and special to me. One of the many joys of friendships is sharing your blessings. But, when there's not enough blessings to go around all of the ones close to you, it makes you feel horrible. Imagine growing up in a poor home with eight siblings. If you are not the oldest or youngest, and your father gives you food, but he could not afford to buy food for the rest of your siblings, would you eat your food? And if you did, could you honestly say you had a clear conscious? It's similar to blessings with friends. If there is not enough to go around, then do not take any. Yes, you may still be hungry, but you will not have to live with the suffering of your friend's lack of blessings on your mind. You will be able to stand proud and say, "If my friends do not receive what they deserve, but I do, then I refuse to take it."
One the arguably most important lessons of friendship is to never judge a book by its cover. It's perhaps the oldest cliche in Equestria, but it is completely true. You see a pony with a messy mane, a skull tattoo, sunglasses as black as night, and a bright blood-red hooded vest on. What would you do? Walk up to him and say hello, or run away in paralyzing fear that he would pull out a razor knife and thrust it into your chest? While you're running, that poor stallion may have just recently went through the passing of a loved one, and is expressing himself through clothing. His messy mane could be the result of his lack of interest to do anything because of depression. Or perhaps he just simply found the style appealing. While you may find your silken dress that shines like glitter to be appealing, he may find the leather comforting on his fur. You may find that skull to represent danger, but it may represent strength to him. Instead of stereotyping, trot to him and say hello. He may even become your best friend.
Unfortunately, I had to learn that lesson in a difficult manner. To be specific, it was the day after I moved into Ponyville, when the mail was delivered to me. I was researching a particular magical spell when I heard a loud knock, or slam rather, at my door. When I opened the door, I saw a Pegasus mare with a grey coat and a blonde mane, and she had aureate eyes that were locked into a wall eyed stare. She had a very bubbly attitude, and had a quite deep voice for a mare. At the time, I judged that book by its cover. The gears in my mind kicked and automatically assumed she had a mental disability. I used very small words with her, which she picked up on. When she left, she had a hurt expression fixated on her face, and she flew off with her shoulders slumped and ears drooped. I crushed her feelings because of my own ignorance, and it made me feel awful. Derpy, the name of the Pegasus, eventually became one of my closest friends. Why? Because I gave her a chance. At one time, I confronted her and apologized. She told me that her mind functions just like any other pony, it was just that her eyes were permanently fixed to a wall eyed stare.
I judged a book by its cover, for which I'm ashamed of. If you give things a chance, just a small glimmer of hope in the dark, you may discover something truly beautiful.
Beautiful. One of the many words used to describe friendship. I spent my entire mare-life researching friendship. I consumed every last crumb of knowledge I possibly could. But, I failed for so long to stop, think, and ask one question. I learned so many things. Share your blessings, never judge a book by its cover, learn to forgive and forget, never give up, always be loyal, and so many thousands of other lessons. I've learned every possible lesson about friendship there is...
Or so I thought.
What is this last lesson? No, it is not love. Love is an entirely different topic, which I have had my life's experience with, but that's best saved for a different story. What is this last lesson? It's a question. It's the root of all the lessons, the roots that run deep into the ground and the very soul of this land. The root that warms our cold Earth. The root that gives its tree its life. And the root that gives its tree its leaves.
My entire life I researched. But I never stopped to ask one important question.
What is friendship?
Is it simply the companionship of another pony? No, that's too bleak, and not nearly descriptive enough.
Is it that warm feeling of comfort and belonging that you receive while with your friends? No, that's closer, but not quite the hammer on the nail head.
Is friendship life? In a way, yes. Without friendship, this includes family, survival would not be worth surviving. You would be a leafless tree. You would always be in the winter cold as dry ice, with no warmth or comfort. Now, does this mean ponies with no friends should not live? Of course not.
Friendship is many things, and can come from many sources. A simple little goldfish can be a friend. Friendship is comforting, warmth, companionship, passion, happiness, and much more. However, these are descriptions, not the specific meaning.
I am now 104 years old. I spent all of my elderly years pondering about this question. What exactly is friendship? As I lay here on my deathbed during the bitter cold of a lifeless winter, I think I have finally found the answer to that question.
It's so simply stunning, yet complicated.
What is Friendship?
Friendship is magic. It's the leaves, the branches, the roots of the tall oak trees that we are. Without it's leaves or roots, a tree is a simple log. Hard, cold, and deserted. Friendship is the leaves. The leaves that feed us and give us beauty. The great greens of leaves are the good times in our friendships. The red and yellow are the harder times. The crunched up and broken leaves are the lost. But, if you do happen to lose those leaves, they grow back again in the spring.
Like magic, friendship is limitless. The power of it can never be underestimated. It is the simplest thing you will ever experience, but also the most complicated. Without friendship, life would be an old rusty iron pipe.
During my fillyhood, so long ago, I always had a feeling of voidness. Like I was the snail's shell missing the slug it was supposed to protect. When I moved to Ponyville, I discovered the magic of friendship, for which I am forever grateful for. Thank you, Princess Celestia. You showed me the magic of friendship. You showed me life.
And also thank you to Luna, you who showed me friendship's own friend: love.
But now, I am tired, and I must rest. It is time my old wrinkly eyes to shut for the final time. It is time for me to begin my new journey with my best friends in the Eternal Herd. I believe it is time for some sleep.
For the very last time,
From your faithful student,
Celestia put the letter down as a single lone tear gently flowed down her face.
"Hello sister." Luna said with in a heavy voice thick with sorrow. Her face was coated in a shining mask of fresh tears.
"Are you okay, my little sister?" Celestia asked with deep concern. Luna and Twilight had shared a powerful love that could only be rivaled by the bond of Shining Armor and Cadence.
"I'm doing okay." Luna began with a heavy sigh. "I'm going to miss her greatly 'Tia." Luna said as Celestia put her hooves around her sister in a comforting hug.
"As will I. She was like my own daughter." Celestia began. The two sisters silently remained in that position for a long moment. Celestia felt the warm tears soak her chest fur as her sister drained herself out. Finally, Celestia pulled back and looked at Luna directly in the eye.
"Fear not sister. Do you remember the prophecy that father told us long ago?"
Luna sniffled, and wiped the tears away from her eyes. "Yes. It is the only thing keeping me glued together now."
"We'll see her again. In a hundred years, when the lost elements reunite and resurrect them." Celestia said with a comforting smile.
"Come now Luna, we should leave Twilight in peace before we take her."
Luna looked back at the lifeless mare with a longed expression. "Can I just have a moment, 'Tia?"
Celestia smiled. "Of course." She walked quietly out of the room, leaving Luna and her passed wife alone.
The Night Princess silently walked over to the edge of Twilight Sparkle's deathbed. Her eyes filled with tears. But this time, they were not of sorrow, but of bittersweet happiness. "Thank you too, Twilight Sparkle." She whispered, then gently planted a kiss on the mare's lips. They were still warm.
Luna turned around, and walked out of the room, for the twilight had just ended, and it was now time to lift the moon.