The Final Inning – A Look Back at “Deathly Hallows”
Eight years ago today the the book that marked the end of an era made its way to bookstore shelves and into the hands of an eager generation of Harry Potter fans. We all remember where we were when we read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the first time. For some of us it was directly following the release, while others waited a few years before coming to the end of the journey. My first time through the pages of the seventh volume in the Harry Potter series was the very second the clock struck twelve on July 21, 2007.
There had been some talk from my parents about how I couldn’t go to the midnight release party this time around due to having a softball tournament the following morning with a 7 a.m. call time. I knew this couldn’t happen, so my twelve-year-old self poured my heart and soul into a very compelling and heart-wrenching argument about how my childhood was coming to a close with the printing of this final chapter of the story. Either I spoke very eloquently, or my parents didn’t feel like dealing with my stubbornness. In the end, I was allowed to go, so I donned my robes and carried the wand that my dad had made me the previous year for Halloween.
When the salesperson handed me my copy of Deathly Hallows, I moved to the side, propped it open on a bookshelf, and began to read as my parents paid. The marathon continued all the way home in a silent car where both myself and my older sister were in a race to the finish line, and our parents knew not to interrupt our progress. I read through the night, stopping only to replace my tissue box, which had been drained when Hedwig was blasted out of the air. I got approximately three hours of sleep before I had to be up and get to my softball game. I spent the rest of the day reading, as I did my part for the team as a bench warmer. My teammates and coaches would occasionally check in to ask me what was happening in the book as I continued my progress in the dugout, my feet dangling a few inches off the dirt floor. I may not have gotten more than three chances at bat that day, but I did spend those precious remaining moments with the characters that had become like a family to me. In between games I went to the car under the pretense of refilling my water bottle, when in reality it was to let out the tears in a place where I couldn’t be interrupted. These periodic sobbing fits took place where no one else could see them, not because I was ashamed of my attachment to a fictional book but because I didn’t need to give my peers another reason to think I was odd and solidify my status as an outsider.
I was sad for so many reasons while reading Deathly Hallows. Of course I was upset at the loss of these characters that I’d grown up with, but I was also upset that the thing that had been my peaceful retreat for so long was coming to a close. I couldn’t have understood back then that this comforting place would never truly leave me. To this day, I revisit the books any time I’m feeling like the real world is a little too difficult to face at the moment. At 12 years old, however, it seemed to me that the place where I didn’t ever have to worry about judgment or not being “cool” enough was being taken away from me. There was so much uncertainty in my life that summer, but if I could go back and tell my younger self that it never really ended and how I am surrounded by friends and a strong support group that has emerged out of my love for Harry Potter, I think I may have been able to save myself a few trips to the car to cry that day.