Harry Potter and Coping

by Feronia Cronus

On February 21, 2004, my seventeen-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. My world was suddenly spun out of control and my heart and soul were wounded beyond recognition. I had no idea how I was going to cope with this and get from one day to the next. I was truly lost, but help came from a most unlikely source.

When Morgan was younger, we started reading Harry Potter. It was cute and fun, but the reading was disjointed. Sometimes she would read it herself and sometimes to her brother. I would just fall into the story wherever she had left off the night before. A couple of years ago though, after the release of Goblet of Fire, I decided that I needed to read the books. I loved them. When Order of the Phoenix came out, Morgan teased me about the fact that I had made an advanced order. I would occasionally check out the fan sites to see what was going on, but my focus was really on other things in my life.

For several weeks after Morgan’’s death, I was incapacitated. I did not know what I wanted or needed. Whatever I did, it did not feel like what I wanted; I was continually restless. Then I remembered a line I had read in OotP and went to look it up. It was after Sirius died and Harry was very unsettled:

“He was finding it hard at the moment to decided whether he wanted to be with people or not. Whenever he was in company, he wanted to get away, and whenever he was alone he wanted company.”(American edition, pg. 850)

That was exactly how I felt.

I continued to read the chapter, understanding and agonizing with Harry as he sat along the lake. I related to his desperation with the mirror and when he went to find Nearly Headless Nick. I then went to my bookshelf and picked up Sorcerer’’s Stone. I completely lost myself in the books. I read them all cover to cover, and then started on them again. What many Harry Potter fans had been doing for years, I started doing myself. I looked for connections, took notes, and started checking in each day with MuggleNet to see what was new. It was something to focus on that was outside of a life that had become so painful. It was an escape, but a healthy one. It was an escape that I so dearly needed. When my emotions felt like they were going to take over my being, I picked up an HP book. I could lose myself in it and then, when the intensity had worn off, I could go back to my reality.

A few weeks ago I was going through some of Morgan’’s belongings that she had put into storage. They were items from her childhood that she moved out of her room but could not let go of. There were little dolls, an odd assortment of toys, a hairless My Little Pony, and at the bottom of the box, Quidditch Through the Ages. My heart sank to my knees.

I am not needing Harry Potter the way in which I did four months ago, but he is still there. At night, when sleep will not come, when I need to feel comforted, I pick up a book or go online to see what rumors are going around. There are two more books to look forward to and of course more movies to watch over, and over, and over again. Eventually when I feel that I can do it, I will read Phoenix aloud to Morgan. She never finished the book.

Though they are just kid books, some “silly” made up fantasy, they have served a purpose in my life. Harry got me through the darkest period I will ever have, and I will be forever grateful to JK Rowling for giving me something so special that I once shared with my daughter, and for giving me a world in which to escape, if only for a short time.