Lily: “Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!”
Voldemort: “Stand aside you silly girl … stand aside now.”
Lily: “Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead.”
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 9
Happy Mother’s Day! What better way to begin the Harry Potter discussion than to discuss the importance of a mother’s love. Once we get to the Deathly Hallows, we will return to this topic as it applies to many mother’s throughout the series, but for today, we begin with Lily Potter.
The Harry Potter series has a host of heartbreaking themes, but Harry’s journey through his teenager years without ever having known his parents, might be the most heartbreaking of all. At around age one, Harry’s parents, Lily and James Potter were both murdered by the evil Lord Voldemort. Thanks to a prophecy, Voldemort sought out the Potters in an attempt to kill their little son, Harry. James tried to hold him off, to allow Lily and Harry to escape, but Voldemort quickly disposed of him. He offered to spare Lily if she would give him her son, but she refused. And then she was dead. But, when Voldemort went to cast the killing curse towards the tiny, baby Harry, the curse backfired and hit Voldemort himself, leaving Harry with only a lightening shape scar on his forehead.
Lily’s loving sacrifice, willingly giving her own life for her son, saved him from a curse with no known protection.
“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you, leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign, but to be loved so deeply, even though the person who loves us is gone, will give us some protection, forever. It is in your very skin.”
– Professor Dumbledore to Harry, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” Chapter 17
This Mother’s Day as I think about Lily, I am even more so thinking of my own mom. Without going into to many specifics, I can say that I was not born at a time that was not at all convenient. There were even some who thought she shouldn’t keep me. But that was never a question for her. I’ve gone through this life, having endured many hardships of my own, with a similar protection cast around me. It becomes most visible in times of great stress. Those moments when I’m closest to breaking. That is when I most notice the power of my mother’s love. In those moments when all I can do is weep hysterically, she is the first person I think to call. I have no fear of judgement, I don’t worry that she’ll tell me to buck up and get over it. No, I know she will be there, listening, and yielding that comforting voice that tells me you will get through this. Just breathe.
During my Junior year of college I faced one such crisis. I was midway through my nursing curriculum, and hating every minute of it. But this, had been my entire life’s dream. To become a pediatric oncology nurse. So much of my identity was wrapped up in this. I was going to become a nurse. It was all I would ever talk about. But once I really got into the clinical aspect of nursing, I could find nothing that I enjoyed. Each night before clinicals I was restless. I couldn’t sleep no matter how hard I tried. I had heart palpitations that scared me. If this was how I reacted towards my chosen profession, how was I going to get through the rest of my life? Was this all there was? Panic and fear about my career. The thing I would be doing every day for the rest of my life.
Near the end of the semester, when the tension had built up to a point I could no longer tolerate, I called my mom crying.
“Mom, I need to tell you something.”
“Yes, honey, what is it?”
“Mom, I think I want to drop out of nursing school.” I proceeded to tell her all about my concerns. I was so sure she would be disappointed.
“Are you sure that is what you really want?” she asked.
“Yes mom, I am.” I said, feeling as though the entire weight of the world had lifted, knowing I was being truly honest.
“Then that is what you should do, honey. And I will support you.”
It was one of those life changing conversations. A mother’s love, changing a crisis into a healing. The permission to be free, to choose my own path, to change course. And I’ve never forgotten.
I don’t think my decision made a whole lot of sense to her at that time. In fact, there have probably been many times when I’ve made life decisions that made no sense to my parents. But they’ve been there, providing guidance, feedback, support and love.
This Mother’s Day I say thank you. My mom is too modest and humble to acknowledge what she has done in my life. She may not really even know. But like Lily, my mom has saved me, time and time again. She and my dad have made so many sacrifices to get me to where I am. They haven’t gone unnoticed. I carry the mark of their love upon me every day. Every single day.
So Happy Mother’s Day, to all of the women out there who have sacrificed for their babies. Whether it be money, sleep, peace of mind (have you ever met a mom that didn’t worry?), and those who have in some way sacrificed their life. You deserve way more than a day to call your own, but may today be one of celebration for you. For your service, dedication and love, we are all the better.