“Dumbledore Lives”: An op-ed to warm your heart

Here at MuggleNet, we do our best to keep you up to date on all the latest Potter news, but we also love to celebrate how Harry Potter has touched the lives of readers around the world. Today, we have a special story about how one woman’s love for the books helped her write a letter to the grandchild she would never get the chance to meet.

In this New York Times op-ed, Jesse Wegman shares a touching story of how Harry Potter influenced the letter his mother wrote to her unborn grandchild as she neared death. Jesse’s mother died in 2009, and when his wife recently gave birth, he knew it was time to retrieve the letter, especially since an infection had put the baby girl in the NICU.

I brought the letter to the NICU, unsealed it and began reading out loud. ‘I am with you.’

The words sounded odd; they were not my mother’s phrasing. But I knew them from somewhere. I searched my memory until it hit me: Harry Potter. My mother bought each book the day it came out and read them all again and again, especially after she got sick. When she didn’t have the energy to hold them, she lay in the hammock and listened on tape. Most of all she loved Dumbledore, who serves as the father Harry never had.

Near the end of the sixth book, Harry travels with Dumbledore to a dark seaside cave, on a desperate search for the splintered soul of the evil Voldemort. Dumbledore realizes that as part of this quest, he must drink a deadly potion. He does and collapses in Harry’s arms. ‘We’re nearly there,’ Harry says. ‘Don’t worry. …’

‘I am not worried,’ Dumbledore says. ‘I am with you.’

My mother tended many damaged, parentless souls in her life. In death, she had become Dumbledore.

Jesse concludes his musings on his mother’s life with a truly beautiful sentiment:

The question is not whether we can raise the dead, but rather how we do it. Sometimes they help us, as my mother did in writing her letter. Sometimes we see them in the soft-focused eyes of our children.

I looked up from the letter. In the strange fluorescent dimness of the NICU, these worlds converged: my new daughter sleeping in her swaddling, my wife in a sterile blue gown leaning down to stroke her through the wires, and my mother watching it all with Dumbledore by the nurse’s station.

If you can manage to still see through your tears, be sure to read the full editorial. Thanks to Twitter user @siobhanf314 for bringing this article to our attention!

Has there ever been a time when Harry Potter has had a deeply meaningful impact on your life?

Jessica J.

I've been making magic at MuggleNet since 2012, when I first joined the staff as a News intern. I've never wavered from the declaration in my childhood journal, circa October 2000: "I LOVE Harry Potter! If I clean my room, my mom says she'll make me a dinner a wizard would love!" Proud Gryffindor; don't hate.