*SPOILER ALERT-if you have not yet read Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows-do not read this post
Before Nicholas and Henry were born I had already begun reading the Harry Potter series and with each new book I revelled in the joy of getting lost in another world. As my babies became boys we got in the habit of listening to the books on CD in the car or at bedtime. Soon one or both of them would be pointing a stick at the other in the backyard and yelling "You great prat!" As time has passed they have practiced their Unforgivable Curses, hunted for just the right stick/wand, longed for their own Quidditch pitch, and, of course, the sword of Godric Gryffindor.
So by the time the opening of the final movie began on Friday I was feeling overwhelmed by "THE END." I gasped when I saw the Quidditch fields ablaze, I wept when Harry finally got to see into Severus Snapes heart via the Pensieve, and I delighted in watching Maggie Smith and the other professors defend Hogwarts to the death. The movie was not exactly like the book, but every moment of it did service to the words in print and to the character J.K. Rowling so lovingly brought to vivid life page after page.
Now here I am days later still pondering Mr. Potter and what his story means to me and mine. When the movie finished we ate supper, all four of us talking at once about our favorite parts, characters, lines. The boys were in heaven dissecting the movie and were even willing to listen and hear what Bob and I had to say about Professor Snape's terrible choice of Voldemort in his early wizarding life and how that one choice, ruined every possible moment of joy he could have had in life. Harry Potter is more than a book to me and mine, because his story transcends wizardry and Death Eaters for real life.
The boys identified with Harry missing parents he didn't remember, and as they have gotten older, they identify with not quite fitting in with the Muggles around them. How I wish there were a Hogwarts summer camp they could go geek out at! Beyond the joy of friendships and learning Harry, Ron, and Hermione made mistakes-sometimes big ones, and learned to ask for help and forgiveness. They learned that loving people means acknowledging their flaws and loving them regardless (brash Sirius, common senseless Hagrid).
They learned that being brave doesn't mean not being scared whether that was riding a hippogrif, dealing with ginormous spiders, facing the school bully, or swallowing potion and becoming Bellatrix. They cheered for the little guy (Dobby, Flitwick) and how even wizards could be cruel to other species (centaurs, Giants, dragons)
They learned to value the eccentric (dear sweet Luna) and the awkward (heroic Neville), to value smarts (Ginny) over money or fame (Professor Slughorn) and to recognize that all people, no matter how difficult you may find them to interact with, have their own life story unfolding-and it is sometimes a heart breaker (Snape). Most importantly they learned the value of being loyal, not just to oneself or friends, but to your beliefs and they learned that there are worse things than dying and that those we love change us forever, and remain with us forever. Not unlike a truly magical book.