I took my daughter, Prudence, to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two last night. We went to a midnight show at our favorite theater. It was a carnival like atmosphere with costumes and performances. The theater was packed there were moviegoers in capes and carrying wands. There were house colors and faux British accents.We saw a dozen people who we knew. I waited in line for thirty minutes to buy a five dollar soda.
Despite the air of frivolity, my daughter cried throughout much of the movie. This series isn't just a story to my daughter. A friend's older brother was obsessed with these books way back in 1999. He counted down the days to the next books release and talked to me of plans for the movie. So one weekend in the spring of 2000, I started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to her. I read the whole book in one weekend. We did nothing else that weekend and at the end of the book I has nearly lost my voice and she fell in love with Harry and his friends. She was six years old.
She taught herself to read just so she could read the Harry Potter books to herself. There have been several midnight release parties at the bookstore and movie theater alike. Since then she has reread the books and watched the movies many times. The characters of JK Rowling are like old friends. She has shared much with them through the years. She has celebrated and mourned with them each time she has reread those books. Each book was bought and promptly devoured. Often she stayed up very, very late reading. Reading Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was one of those nights. Near the end of the book, she came out of her room. It was after midnight and I started to scold her until I saw her face. She sobbed inconsolably in my arms while I held on tight. She cried even harder through the last book.
Although there were no more Harry books, a whole new world of magic and imagination opened up to her. Not all of the other books she has loved have had a paranormal element to them, but they have all been a portal to another world.
She cried through much of the last movie last night. Yes, it was a story of much loss, but I think she was really saddened by something else. She is seventeen now, nearly eighteen. The release of the last movie is the end of her childhood. Like Harry, Ron and Hermione, she has to face the adult world and it's sometimes ambiguous questions. She has to face loss and betrayal. She has to find love and friendship and navigate their sometimes winding path. No more can a kiss from her mother soothe all ills. She is eager to go out into the world and I find it so hard to uncurl my fingers and let her go and follow her heart, which doesn't lead her where I might wish her to go.
In the end, in that theater packed full of people it was just she and I. This time when she cried she didn't even hold my hand.