I don’t read a lot of uplifting books. I prefer the dark and twisty to the bright and shiny (to borrow from the vernacular of Shonda Rhimes). But there is one book series that, while not shiny, happy in and of itself, did give me a tremendous amount of hope in a time when I needed it. And that book has been on my mind quite a bit lately.
Harry Potter… I know, right?
I began reading the Harry Potter books while in grad school. ( I believe the Prisoner of Azkaban had just been released.) Like most of you, I was immediately hooked and eagerly awaited the publication of each new installment. And when we began to talk about having children, I so looked forward to a day when I could share Harry with them.
And then I had a child, and the worries of parenthood began to creep in. After a particularly bad miscarriage, I sank into a deep depression – one that I feared I might not recover from. I worried so much about death – losing my child, losing another pregnancy. But the big worry was the fear that I would die myself, that my child would lose a parent. I went into counseling, I read the books that were recommended to me, I meditated, I wrote in a journal. None of it helped. And then, ridiculous as it may seem, I started to think about Harry Potter. I realize that it’s an exaggeration of what might actually happen, but the thought that a child could survive a parent’s death, even both parents’ death, and come out on the other side of it okay helped me. The Harry Potter books reminded me that children are resilient, that they will find role models in other places, that at some point friends become an important influence in their lives. Harry Potter gave me hope that if I died, my children would be okay without me. It seems silly, but it’s oh-so-serious to me.
I still have days when I worry. Okay, I still have a lot of days when I worry. Looking at my son sleeping beside me, I can’t imagine missing one second of his life. But when that worry starts to feel overwhelming, I stop, take a deep breath, and remember that he will be okay. That my daughter will be okay. That life can go on without me, as much as it pains me to think that it would. That while my children might not have the same life that they would if I were around, they will be fine. (I hope…)
Is it absurd to find hope in a book like this? Perhaps. But it saved me. I climbed out of that deep hole of depression because of it.
I have hope today because there’s love in my life. I have hope today because the world seems to stretch out before me. But seven years ago, I had hope because I had Harry Potter to guide me – a world to lose myself in until I could handle my own again.