Monday, October 29, 2007

That's Random: Goodbye, Harry

So last night around 10 o'clock, we finally finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

(I realize that any of you who care probably did the same thing on, oh, July 22 or so. But you try reading a dense, 759-page book aloud to two squirmy, easily distractable kids -- one of whom insists on practicing his human beatbox skills and dance moves from his chair while you attempt to read, and another who launches into uncontrollable fits of giggling upon hearing British slang like "snog" and "mental" -- and we'll see just how long it takes you.)

Both of my kids were simultaneously horrified, embarrassed, and a little freaked out when I burst into tears and couldn't continue reading during a key climactic sequence (don't worry, I won't spoil anything for the two of you out there who may still be slogging through it), and again at the conclusion of the tale we've followed for the better part of the last decade.

Today, I still feel verklempt -- sort of weepy and spent and a bit mournful. And how could I not? Aside from the inherent drama of the story itself, these are characters my children have literally grown up with.

I think we started reading the first book together (glossing over the scariest parts) when Austin was in kindergarten. His preschool-aged sister, though by no means old enough to be exposed to such a sophisticated and emotionally fraught book, nevertheless refused to be denied, clambering up on the bed with us to hear about the strange and magical world that Harry and his young friends inhabited.

Since then, I've read every page of all seven books aloud to them, spending untold hours snuggled under the covers or piled up together on the couch as they listened (sometimes raptly and sometimes not) while the epic narrative unfolded. I'm pretty sure that just hearing the words "Harry Potter" or seeing the books or an image from one of the movies will forever trigger a picture to form in my mind of my children in pajamas and pigtails.

So yeah, I cried as both the series and our experience of it drew to a close last night. It was strange and sad to say farewell to the fictional boy who has been such a constant presence in our lives these last eight years, and to think about his journey from a lost and unloved child to an honorable and heroic young man -- all the while gazing at my own little boy and pondering his transformation from a tiny, smooth-cheeked thing who snuggled up to me while I read to the handsome, strapping adolescent who was now sitting across from me. (Granted, the one who was now sitting across from me making obnoxious beatbox noises with his mouth -- but still.)

So goodbye, Harry Potter, and thank you.

I think I have to go and cry again now.


Haydee said...

What a sweet post. Reading it brought similar images of snuggling under the covers and reading with my 4-year old. I am an avid reader and recently my 4-year old has realized that not liking reading is a form of rebellion in our house. I still manage to convince him, almost daily still, to let me read to him and when I do it is deeply satisfying for us both--my little 2 month old stares at me as I read and I'm convinced she's right there with us. I have not read a single Harry Potter book,(I have no idea why..stay with me)..but thanks to your post I will start reading it with my still smooth-cheeked boy before I blink and he's gone.

SGM said...

I STILL tear up when I think about the scene to which I am sure you are referring. I can't even speak about it aloud! What a great experience to have with your kids.

Marianne said...

Awww, what a sweet story. I admit, I was equally verklempt when I finished the books - and I'm 23! They are fantastic, and I'm so sad the series is over.

Mandy Lou said...

I had to keep myself from reading too quickly - because I knew this was the last. It's good that you savored the book and the experience!

Anonymous said...

i had such a hard time reading the book because i knew it was the last time we'd get to see harry & the gang. when i closed it, i was really sad.

Brandi Hussey said...

"verklempt" is the perfect word to describe how finishing that seventh book left me, too. with harry potter being such a megapower marketing thing, it's strange to think there's no new adventures to look forward to.

and as far as that passage you're referring to... i had to put the entire book down and go do something else for an hour before i had enough courage to finish it. and even then, i took the liberty to rewrite (in my head) small details, just to make myself feel better.

Kristi(e) said...

As a children's librarian, I am quite happy to hear that you continued to read the whole series aloud to your children (beat-boxing aside) even as they got to an age where most children tend to read to themselves! It is a well-known fact in the library world that the more often children are read to, the better readers they become.

As for the scene in question, I couldn't tell exactly which one you mean since there were many that drove me to the tissue box.


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