J.K. Rowling Reminds Us – Time and Time Again – That Love Conquers All
These days it seems as though the only news we see is bad news, that the Internet, the television, and even the radio, have become cesspools of negative energy and tragedy. It is in times like these that the lessons we have learned from Harry Potter seem more relevant than ever. It isn’t always easy to practice friendship, bravery, or love on the regular, but with constant reminders and help from our friends, family, and – in the case of Potterheads – the fandom, it becomes second nature.
The Harry Potter fandom has never been short on showing how much we care about the world, the environment, or each other. We at MuggleNet like to think that a little bit of those traits comes from watching J.K. Rowling endlessly give back to the fandom – and the world – in so many beautiful, selfless, thoughtful, and overwhelmingly generous ways. Not even taking into account Lumos or the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic or the millions of dollars that Jo donates to charity each year, she is easily one of the most philanthropic authors of our generation.
While the list of amazing things that J.K. Rowling does for her readers – from responding to tweets to popping into book club meetings – would probably circle the Earth multiple times, we wanted to take a minute to acknowledge a few times that Jo went above and beyond for the sake of love.
Handwritten letters to fans
In perhaps one of the single most touching things we have ever seen from any author, Jo put quill to parchment in 2014, penning a letter to a young girl who had lost both of her parents and four siblings in a shooting massacre carried out by her uncle. Cassidy Stay, then only 15 years old, was the lone survivor and quoted Dumbledore in a public memorial for her family.
While the contents of the letter from Jo are private, her spokesperson Rebecca did confirm that Jo knew of the tragedy and wrote a letter to the young girl. In a Facebook post, those who campaigned to make Jo aware of the incident relayed that the letter did come from Dumbledore.
Sharing secrets with terminally ill Potterheads
J.K. Rowling has asked readers, for as long as we can remember, to #KeepTheSecrets. The plot of upcoming Harry Potter novels was a question she repeatedly didn’t answer. However, she did break her silence at least twice.
Gina, the mother of Catie Hoch, a young lady from New York, emailed J.K. Rowling via her publishers back in 2000. Three years earlier, Catie had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer that began in her kidneys and spread to her liver, lungs, and spine. Gina read the Harry Potter novels to her daughter throughout treatment and recovery but feared coming to the end of Prisoner of Azkaban since Catie’s life expectancy would likely mean that she wouldn’t be alive to read the fourth novel for herself. The email to J.K. Rowling’s publishers culminated with multiple letters back and forth and eventually a transatlantic phone call in which Jo read portions of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire over speakerphone to Catie, her mother, her father, and her two brothers. Jo had plans to meet Catie on her upcoming US book tour, but Catie passed on May 18, 2000 – a few months before Jo could make it to the states. Jo donated $100,000 to a memorial fund that had been set up in Catie’s name and remains friends with her mother to this day.
Another time that Jo has shared secret plot details with a fan was Ms. Natalie McDonald. A family friend, Anne Kidder, wrote to JKR regarding Natalie, who was dying of leukemia. Jo was knee-deep in writing Goblet of Fire at the time, so before her response to Natalie – complete with tidbits containing secrets from the fourth installment, as well as who her favorite characters are – had reached the young lady, Natalie had passed. Jo kept in touch with Natalie’s mother, Valerie, whom she met the following year in London. It was during that trip that, while reading to her daughters on the subway, Valerie noticed that her beloved daughter had been immortalized in ink. Natalie McDonald had been sorted into Gryffindor, as a classmate to Mr. Dennis Creevey.
Tweeting from the heart
One of the most moving examples of Jo’s uplifting interactions with fans can be found on her Twitter. Kate, a girl who struggled with body image and thoughts of suicide, wrote to Jo on Twitter, asking for a Potter spell in Jo’s handwriting, while bravely telling us of her struggles.
— ️️️️Kate ❀ (@AlwaysJLover) May 11, 2016
Jo responded to Kate’s request by sending a handwritten version of the Patronus Charm, along with some encouraging words:
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 11, 2016
Most recently, as our nation mourns the victims and offers condolences to the families of the injured and slain in the Orlando shooting, Jo reminds us that we are all part of a special circle of friendship, no matter the distance or the fact that we may never meet. One of our own, Luis Vielma, became the face of the tragedy for our fandom. When Jo heard that Luis, an employee at Universal and a proud Gryffindor, had been killed in the attack on Pulse, she joined us all in mourning the loss of a young and promising life, tweeting,
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 13, 2016
During the public visitation for Luis, flowers had been sent from Jo along with a note:
Her constant support of those within the fandom reminds us that we are not alone in our grief, our anger, or moments of despair. It is moments like those – past, present, and unfortunately, future – that the fandom needs to rally together and support one another. Our hearts echo Jo’s sentiments – you will never be forgotten. The bonds of friendship, loyalty, and love will forever bind us together. Let us not forget what brought us together, but always keep it close to our hearts and spread it to others as a way to #PotterItForward.
In memory of lives lost, whatever the circumstances, Sirius Black said it best when he said,
The ones that love us never really leave us. You can always find them… [puts hand over Harry’s heart] in here.”