I wonder what J.K. Rowling would think if she knew that she has a fan club among those who are grieving. I can’t imagine she would be too surprised. The Harry Potter books are imbued with references to grief and living after the loss of a loved one. In fact, J.K Rowling has stated that the death of her own mother had a profound impact on the creation of Harry Potter and his world of enchantment.
Grief waves its wand over the Harry Potter series time and time again. Rowling has written so many words and quotes that cast their spell on the bereaved and I am not impervious to their charms. But, there are two words that summon, for me, what it is to live a life of grief: constant vigilance.
These words are attributed to the character of Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, a wizard who has fought a long battle and who has the scars (both physical and emotional) to prove it. The characters in the book, when faced with uncertainty at what the magical world holds for them, remember Moody preaching of “constant vigilance.”
This is what it’s like to live a life of grief. Every day is so uncertain. You never know what or who is waiting for you, so you are always at the ready. Your eyes trained to always be on the lookout for the triggers that may reveal themselves. Your wand held high to cast a protective spell over your heart at a moment’s notice.
Constant vigilance. It’s an exhausting life to live. I always imagined, in my readings before losing Dorothy, that Moody must sleep so well at night. He would have to be well rested so that he could always be on the lookout for the danger that lurked on the edges of his periphery. Now, I know that he probably did not sleep well. I know that I don’t.
It might seem a fruitless endeavor to protect yourself from hypothetical situations, but when you’ve lost your child you don’t know any other way to live. The loss of your child was once a hypothetical situation. Now, it’s real.
Now, when I read Harry Potter, and I read it often, I find myself wanting more from Moody’s friends and counterparts. It’s similar to the way that I feel about some of my more hesitant friends and family. There are many times when they dismiss his vigilance as mere paranoia and there are many times when they are right to assume that everything will be okay. But, there are also times when Moody’s concerns go unheard and heartbreak follows.
Would it have been so difficult to listen to him, to humor him, just to err on the side of caution? I don’t think so. At the very least, he would have felt supported. I wonder what Moody would have been like if he didn’t feel like he was alone in his battle.
A life of constant vigilance does not have to be a lonely life. A vigil is better when there are more to help keep watch. If we support each other in our vigilance, we will be capable of living by more of Rowling’s powerful words.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”