Last week I got uncharacteristically sick. Oh, I get a cough and sniffle occasionally, but I don’t get dropped to the ground by viruses and bacteria, I am too strong for those pesky micro-organisms, or so I thought. Despite attempts at visualizing myself well, something or likely everything turned me into a body aching, feverish mess that did nothing but lay on the couch. I am a terrible patient because illness makes me angry. I growled around because I had things to do, books to read, ideas to write down, and I had a great party to go to on Saturday that I had to miss! I had no choice but to do what any normal terribly sick person would do – watch T.V.
On my worst “sick” day, one of the cable channels was playing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and I watched it sideways from beginning to end. At first it reminded me that I planned to start reading the series to Gus when he turned eleven. Up until then, he’d only dabbled in reading, a Percy Jackson novel here, a partial try at the Hunger Games there, and he picked up the middle book in the Lemony Snicket’s series (who does that?) and quickly put it down (phew!). Reading bored Gus or as he said “it made his eyes tired”, the only thing he every really got through was the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the Bone graphic novels and anything that I read to him. That fall was going to be different though, I had great aspirations, no more graphic novels, no more tired eyes, I would lead him to the Harry Potter holy grail and he would love to read on his own, I’d done this before. As I drifted towards sadness a new thought gripped me, the good world had spared me from marring an otherwise wonderful memory.
The Harry Potter series is a cherished memory from a time before Gus. Back then, I had two little boys, oldest aged 10 and little one 8, who didn’t bother to dabble they just hated reading. I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone out of desperation. I declared it a new nightly ritual to replace the half hour of cartoons they were allowed only if and when they finished their homework. The first time I picked up the book, they nearly fainted from the idea that they would have to sit there while I got through the very thick book. To distract them from its length, I offered to limit the reading to a single chapter a night. They leafed through the book and seeing that the chapters were not too long reluctantly agreed. Within a week the boys were asking for “just one more chapter” and then moaning and groaning because I had to close the book for bed time. We flew through the first three books this way and then had to wait a year sometimes two for the next one. It was a magical time although it wasn’t until the movies came out that we realized I read some of the names wrong like Hermion – instead of Her-mi-o-ne (sorry I’d never of heard of that name) and Hay-grid instead of Haa-grid.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the first book they wanted to read on their own. I bought several copies of the book and we each read our copy sprinkled around the family room. We read the next two books the same, discussing it at the dinner table and teasing each other with the next surprise. The boys were in the middle of high school when the last book was published and they read it at Boy Scout summer camp while I read it at home. I was sobbing when I closed the book but not because of the book but because I knew my time with the boys was coming to a close. They would soon be off to college and the rest of their lives.
It is tough to bridge back to happy memories when everyday is a reminder that we are making new memories that Gus is not there to share in. Particularly difficult however, is to go back even further to the time before Gus as though failing to limit my memories to only the time with him is some kind of betrayal, but as I lay there watching the movie I was grateful to the Spirit for keeping the Harry Potter time safe from the sadness of loss. The Spirit always knows best…..