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I was reading about the upcoming illustrated edition of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone and it made me think about how much Harry Potter has changed my life.
“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.”
Let me start at the beginning, I wasn’t always a Harry Potter fan. In fact, I rallied against it for many years before a good friend (yes, Celeste, it’s you) and my dying Grandmother made me see that this might be a series worth checking out. Boy were they right. I admit to being 100% wrong on this one.
By the time I read the Harry Potter books JK Rowling was well into the series and in fact, I was able to read the first 6 without having to wait. Then I, like the rest of the world, had to wait for the final book, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. I remember that day vividly. I was in CVS on my way to work and I happened to see copies behind the register. I eagerly bought one (even though my mom had pre-ordered a copy for me, I couldn’t wait to pick it up from her house, I had a total moment of the right nows for that book. As in, it had to be in my life right now). I remember getting to work and having about 15-minutes to spare before I had to go in so I looked at the book. I almost didn’t want to open it because I knew once I did I would never have that first moment again. I actually sat for a moment, my hand on the cover and took a couple deep breath’s, preparing myself for the awesome that was sure to be inside.
I then suffered through 6-hours of work!
Once I got home all I did was read, for hours. I read the entire book in that one day. I was done with it by midnight of that sunny Sunday and I was a crying mess. Never before (or really, since) had I read something that touched me so deeply. That made me feel all the feels. That made me so achingly sad and happy at the same time.
I love books. I LOVE them. I will never ever replace my library of beautiful pages and paper with electronics. Never. I will always carry a book with me when I go places. I will always enjoy looking at my books, touching them, reading them under a dim light. For me, reading the Harry Potter books was proof of how magical books can really be. I had forgotten that magic in the hustle and bustle of grown-up life. Now, it seems quite silly that I could ever forget how books can transport you to a new (and sometime, better) world.
What struck me about Deathly Hallows was how final it was. I know that Rowling has said since that she would never say never to revisiting the Hogwarts crew but for so many, that was the end game. The final tale to be told about our beloved Harry, Hermoine and Ron. So many of my favorite characters died in those thousand or so pages, so many friends I wished I could meet and so many creatures and adventures I wished I could have … and I did, thanks to Rowling and her ability to craft a story of beautiful words, wonderful people and even more amazing tales.
I’m going to keep going until I succeed — or die. Don’t think I don’t know how this might end. I’ve known it for years.”
I think my favorite part of the final book is when Harry finally goes to confront Voldemort in the woods. He uses the Deathly Hallows to resurrect the people he loved who had passed on. They urged him on, they kept him stumbling down that hill to an impossible fate. To a choice that no child should ever have to make.
Harry Potter: Why are you here, all of you?
Lily Potter: We never left.
Harry Potter: Does it hurt, dying?
Sirius Black: Quicker than falling asleep.
James Potter: You’re nearly there, son.
Harry Potter: I’m sorry. I never wanted any of you to die for me. And Remus, your son…
Remus Lupin: Others will tell him what his mother and father died for. One day, he’ll understand.
Harry Potter: You’ll stay with me?
James Potter: Until the end.
Harry Potter: And he won’t be able to see you?
Sirius Black: No. We’re here, you see.
Harry Potter: Stay close to me.
Lily Potter: Always.
~JK Rowling, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
To this day, I cannot read that passage in the woods (or even see the movie) without crying. It’s so powerful. For all Harry’s bravery and smarts, with all the love that surrounds him, he is still afraid and he wants his family around him. It’s a comfort to imagine that all those that we have lost in this life are still here with us, maybe not in ghostly form, but at least nearby, urging us on, keeping us going, keeping us brave because we are loved and they are always close.
So how did Harry Potter change my life? Easy. Those books made me see that magic can exist wherever you expect it least (look at Harry, he was in a hopeless situation when that dang owl showed up and everything changed). I learned that the true measure of a man/woman/etc is how they treat others; that true friendship means sometimes standing up against them when they are wrong.
More than anything, it taught me that the power of love is always, ALWAYS greater than hate (take that Donald Trump) and that no matter what happens, those you love will be with you forever.
JK Rowling also made me a better reader and a better writer. The lessons I learned reading her words and how she crafted them together influenced my own writing and every time I read, every time I re-read Harry Potter I become better at my own craft. If I ever got the chance to meet her I hope I would be able to say that. More likely than note I will go deaf and mute at the sight of her and others will have to speak for me!
What about you? Did you have a mind-blowing Harry Potter experience? Do you love the books? Hate them? Are you like me and going to snatch up the new illustrated edition as soon as you can? Sound off in the comments! Tell me YOUR Harry Potter story.