I identify quite well with the character of Harry Potter. He’s a wizard; I’m a witch. His parents are dead; my parents are dead. His past is marked by evil; my past (and sometimes present) is marked by evil. Yes, he is completely fictional, but I feel a sort of kinship to the boy stumbling about trying to put together the pieces of himself.
In the second-to-last movie, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1, he goes back to Godric’s Hollow, his birthplace and the place where his parents died. There, he sees his parents’ graves for the first time. The scene is heartbreaking. From experience, my guess is he realised in that moment that his parents truly were dead.
Fiction, be it in books, films, or any other medium, often touches our lives and sparks strong emotions. That scene really stuck out in my mind. I remember seeing my mother’s grave for the first time after her burial. I struck out, charcoal pencil and paper in hand to trace the head stone. When I got to the cemetery, though, I immediately wanted to turn back. I knew my mother was dead. Still, when I saw that headstone, it was like being kicked in the chest. The realisation sunk in deeper than it had before. The old cliche is that definite things are set in stone. Seeing her name carved in stone with birth and death dates below was almost too much for me to take. For a minute there, I literally could not breathe.
Death, at least in this incarnation, is set in stone. We become attached to people, either through blood or choice, and we part by death or by choice. Regardless, everything dies. It’s the one definite in life. The grief it brings matches the love it takes, which is one of the cruelest things about life. We write about it, talk about it, and even chart ways through it, but really, there are no words for grief. It is a silent thief that takes what we love the most. For a time, though, we survive it. I guess, in actuality, that is one of life’s greatest hopes.