When I Grow Up

Tonight, my kids and I watched a Harry Potter movie.  I cried so hard when Dumbledore died.  It made me remember that 2 1/2 years ago, when I read the book aloud to my children, I also cried.  I couldn’t even read it out loud: I had to stop because I was crying too hard.

Tonight, as I tried to hide the tears again streaming down my face, I laughed, and my kids laughed: they circled me and hugged me.  The death of Dumbledore.  Why does it make me cry so much?  Simply stated, I cry over what he represents: the belief that there are real grown-ups in this world who stand up and fight for all that is good: grown-ups who have attained peace, wisdom and perspective, who have survived the fray and come out the other side with levity and love in their hearts.

Dumbledore has courage, and no real sense of self-preservation.  He has a firm and unshakeable belief in what is right and good.  He represents those who want to go out swinging because it no longer matters what happens to them as individuals, but what happens to those he leaves behind.

I have had the privilege of meeting many such people in my life.  In fact, every Wednesday, when I work at the hospital, I always meet such people.  I remember one patient a few weeks ago.  He was so, so very sick.  I went to help him put his socks on and I asked him before I did it, if I could.  “Let’s get these rules out of the way,” he said to me, short of breath and perspiring because of his pain.  “Don’t ask me.  Just tell me.  Don’t apologize.  Just do. I know you’re not trying to hurt me, you’re just doing your job.  So have courage.  And do it.”

He knew I was a new student.  And all of my elderly patients have treated me with the same compassion.  They advocate for me and teach me, while they are in pain and recovering.  One woman who had been diagnosed with cancer of the bowel, who had a colostomy and total hysterectomy, said to me, “Sweetie, never let anyone tell you that you can’t learn something new every day.”  She then told me that she had spent the last 5 years being treated at a pain clinic for her back, and that she needed to get home to care for her husband who was recently diagnosed with cancer.  She wasn’t worried about her.  She was worried about going home to care for her husband.  And she was giving me life lessons while she was at it.  She was a grown-up.

We all have a warrior buried in our heart, who will stand up strong despite the fear.  Courage in the face of adversity, strength in the face of fear, the power of choice in moments of darkness–these are the things that turn us into adults.

Every single one of us has the right to learn, to grow, to change, and to stand by what we feel is right, until the day we leave this earth.  We always, always have a choice.  Dumbledore represents courage, faith and the power of choice.  He died to protect the innocence of a foolish child.  He paid the ultimate price to protect what he cherished.  Dumbledore is the grown-up I want to be, and the grown-up who makes me believe that grown-ups can exist.

From The Order of the Phoenix:

“There is a room in the Department of Mysteries,… that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that resides there. It is the power held within that room that you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all. That power took you to save Sirius tonight. That power saved you from possession by Voldemort, because he could not bear to reside in a body so full for the force he detests. In the end, it mattered not that you could close your mind. It was your heart that saved you.”

When I grow up I want to be the kind of grown-up that makes people believe in grown-ups.  I think that is why I cry so hard.  I want the good guys to win, and even in the face of death and loss, to go out swinging.  Because that’s how good guys never die.

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