A Letter to Harry Potter
I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone during the summer of 1999, shortly after I got my tonsils taken out. My aunt bought my sister a copy; she took one look at it, decided against reading it, and gave it straight to me. I remember that it took me less than a day to finish, and naturally I stayed up until 4am to do so (that became a bit of a tradition with each new book in the series). I bought and read Chamber of Secrets shortly after, and I remember rereading the two books at least three more times before Prisoner of Azkaban came out in September.
There’s no denying that I’ve been hooked from the beginning, so much so that this weekend has been especially emotional for me, as I ventured out with the millions of others who went to the final movie. Harry Potter drew me in more strongly than any book series I’ve read. That was true in 1999, and it remains true now, 12 years later. I have no doubt that my connection to the series has a lot to do with how much I related to Harry: my home life was not the best, to be concise. I found early on that reading acted as an escape from things happening around me. To say that the idea of being whisked off to Hogwarts was a comforting dream for me would be quite the understatement.
The books, I’ve come to realize, taught me more than I could ever begin to list. They inspired me to write, create my own worlds, and so much more. The movies were equally wonderful in their own right, giving an amazing new element to the fandom. Dressing up for the first premiere is something I will never forget, even though it was done mostly in jest.
Most importantly though, they brought me through one of the darkest points in my life. In 2002 I was diagnosed with melanoma. It may sound silly to some, but finishing the Harry Potter series was one of my two big ‘dreams’ for why I had to beat cancer. The other was graduating high school.
There aren’t really any words I can’t think of to succinctly describe how I felt after the credits rolled on Friday. I sat in the theater at 2:15am, in tears and grinning from ear to ear. I think J.K. Rowling’s words on finishing the series sums it up quite well:
“I never dreamed I could feel simultaneously heartbroken and euphoric.”
As of writing this, I have been in remission for seven years. I’ve braved countless other hardships as I grew up alongside Harry, reading his own. Now, it’s time to part ways. While I am heartbroken that it’s finished, I know my connection to these books is more than midnight releases and new movie premieres. I cannot wait for the day that I might share this story with my own children, but until then reliving the fantasy is as simple as opening a book or popping in a DVD. As Rowling said at the London premiere:
“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”