A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend. ~Author Unknown
A good book has no ending. ~R.D. Cumming
We were at Waterloo Town Square this afternoon listening to our favourite accapella group, the Knight Caps. We stepped into Shoppers Drug Mart to cool off and saw a special Collectors Double Issue of EW titled: “Goodbye, Harry”. Of course, I had to have it even though I’ll never say goodbye!
The Harry Potter books and movie series have been a huge part of my life for the last 10 years. I can remember the dates I read each of the books, what I was doing in my life at that time, and who I saw each movie with! I first started reading the books in the summer of 2002 when I lived in Dundas while doing my master’s degree at Mac. Lucky for me, the first movie came out in 2001, so I got to watch it over and over again that summer. I immediately became enthralled in the series, pulled in by its underlying themes of friendship and love.
By 2003, the 5th HP book came out. I took it with me to Florida in June when Mom, Ashley, Jenny, Erin ventured down for a mini-vacation before my August wedding. When Sirius died, I cried and cried, desperately trying to hide my tears from Erin who was also reading the book! It felt like such a huge loss for Harry – no parents and now no guardian. I was totally entrenched in the story. After our wedding in August, I lugged HP 5 on our honeymoon so I could reread it and share it with Jeremy – he loved it too.
Book 6 came out in 2005 – it provided a welcome distraction from my uncle’s battle with cancer. I knew right at the end that Snape wasn’t evil and that Kreacher would eventually redeem himself for his earlier betrayal.
In the summer of 2006, Jeremy and I took our last kid-free, worry-free trip. I had all the HP books on my IPOD and listened to them as we traveled around Europe. I distinctly recall listening to book 5 while traveling to Inverness, Scotland, imagining the landscape Hagrid would have taken to visit the giants! Jeremy told me on that trip that we’d soon have phones and IPODs that would do way more, like be in colour and allow you to watch movies, etc. I laughed, thinking why that would even be necessary for anyone. This is coming from the owner of 3 IPOD touches…hmmm…one of which is Jamie’s. Anyway, we got to visit the HP castle used for the first 2 movies in Alnwick. Super cool. I can’t admit how much the train ride cost to get there – it’s too embarrassing - but it did make the trip for me!
The summer of 2007 was an important time for HP fans: Book 7 and Movie 5. I remember it distinctly b/c this is the year Jamie was born and he wouldn’t take a bottle. The only freedom I craved was 2.5 hours to see HP 5 in the theatres, so Mom met Jeremy and me in the movie theatre parking lot, I fed Jamie while Jeremy went to get our seats, and Mom took Jamie back to our house. It was amazing. Totally worth all the effort! I also remember being up during the night, like 3 or 4 am, reading book 7 while feeding Jamie. I was so scared at times that Voldemort was going to come around the corner, I had to stop!
The books have always provided me with a solace and an escape mechanism. I love how they take the reader away to different place where the main characters are surrounded by a deep friendship and love. Plus the books stress the importance of cultivating relationships with animals. It wasn’t until I had Kate that I realized another big reason I love this series: differences are accepted.
I guess I could write forever about how I feel about HP. As the movie series came to an end this week, I hope that something else can come to an end for me. After Kate’s 2009 birth, I entered into a really dark time in my life. I think my doctor thought I had bad post-partum, but looking back I now know it was my knowledge and awareness that something was different about Kate. When we weren’t sleeping in the fall of 2009, I reread the books over and over again. They helped me get through a very dark and scary time and for that I am truly grateful. It might seem a bit silly to place so much emphasis on a bunch of books, but it’s true. Reading them got me to calm down and sleep when I was at my worst in 2009 – 2010, especially last summer while we awaited Kate’s diagnosis. I remember one of the comments I made to Jeremy when Kate was tested for AS was “I just wanted to be able to read and share HP with her”. I’ll still do that…somehow…
Acceptance. Friendship. Love. Amazing messages to deliver to children, teens and young adults. Thank you JK Rowling for giving me such a wonderful safety net and providing me with pure enjoyment.
I love it up at Mom and Dad`s cottage. It`s a place of serenity and solace for me. It actually got me through the difficult time waiting for Kate`s AS test results last summer. Kate and I spent a lot of time swimming to the middle of the lake where we could just BE. It had such a calming effect on me.
This year is no exception. I had another nice long swim today with Kate in her dolphin floaty from the Macey family. Kate`s so strong, I think she may pull herself right out of it! She definitely needs someone around at all times, but that`s time well spent. Water is therapy for both of us, just in different ways. Kate woke up a little grouchy today. She seems off: shouting while she`s eating, fussy when she wakes up from napping. I know something is going on. We`ve now deduced ways to determine what`s bothering our non-verbal child. Today, I tried the water after food and potty didn`t work. It instantly changed her. She becomes so expressive in the water…in fact, I would say she`s making more sounds since she`s been swimming on a daily basis since July 1. So Kate and I swam out to the middle of the lake. There`s barely anyone here. I could easily talk to Jamie and Jeremy on the dock and they were probably 500 m away. We got to take a moment together where we could just breathe and feel better. In the middle of the lake with no one around, the sound of the loons, the backdrop of Muskoka, it feels like we`re the only people on Earth. It makes you feel like you have an important place in this universe. I know Kate certainly does! I will always treasure these moments with my daughter. She`s a hydrophile, and that`s not because she has AS, it`s because she`s like me. When I see her in her floaty, or splashing with assistance, or even in the O`Brien sea biscuit behind the boat (yes, we believe in FULL inclusion!), I always think to myself `that`s my daughter in the water`and smile.
“Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.” ~ Ralph Blum
I feel like this may be a long post, but we’ve had a truly amazing end to the month of June so I have lots to share.
Right after Kate’s birthday, we went to the Font Hill McDonalds for a special Kate’s Kause fundraiser. This staff is just unbelievable. They put on a great day for the community, all while raising funds for Kate’s Kause. My grandmother got to see it, which also made it really special. I continue to be astounded and blown away by the kindness and generosity of others. WOW.
We made sure we were kept busy on the 23rd as that was the anniversary of Kate’s AS testing. I think that date was harder for me than the diagnosis – it really confirmed my worst fears that something neurological was the culprit for Kate’s delays.
On June 24th, Kate, Jeremy, Uncle KP, Aunt Jenny, and Grandpa all participated in a McFamily golf tournament for Kate`s Kause organized by Grant Ford at the Cutten Club in Guelph. When Grant planned the date, he had no way of knowing that the end of June would be such a difficult time for us. The golf tournament provided a welcome distraction. I wish I could describe the feeling this day gave all of us. It was one of the most amazing days of my life. The McFamily golfers were so wonderful and supportive, and very interested in us. We had a great time – Jenny and I got to drive the kids around in a golf cart, which is a throw back to our childhood when we used to drive the carts over as many hills as we could on the golf course! I got to stay for lunch where my father and I were presented with a cheque for $34 000! . It’s an unbelievable amount of money to raise in one day!We were floored by the amount, but I think the thing that resonates the most with me was the support for my Dad. After it was over, my brother in law told us he felt it was the best day. I tried really hard to mentally bottle the feeling of elation and support I felt from these wonderful people. I will never, ever forget it.
Five days later, we attended our Keg Thanks a Million reception where Kate`s Kause received another $25 000. What a week! An hour later, Jeremy and I had to attend the Bluevale Commencement ceremony. As we stood in the entrance way to the commencement ceremony with our large cheque from the Keg, we got to hear our principal’s speech. She spoke of what it means to graduate and to do something extraordinary. And then, as examples of amazing accomplishments, she mentioned us! US! In front of all these students, whom we have a lot of respect for, their parents and family, and our fellow staff! I missed the rest of the speech because I started crying immediately. I`ve never had that happen before – to be called amazing in front of a huge crowd. I thought back to my own high school graduation and the hopes and dreams of what life would be. I always wanted to do something great for others. At that moment, I finally realized that Kate is helping me make the difference for others that I so wanted to make. I guess I don`t really view what we are doing as something extraordinary – to us, it`s ordinary and part of our life. I love a challenge, love to busy, and I guess I like to work hard (OK maybe I love to work hard!). But, I`m glad to know that our efforts are well recognized. So to those of you who`ve been telling me that all along, I now get what you were saying. Thank you.
The very next day, Bluevale had to say goodbye to some amazing staff members. I was particularly upset about one of them leaving, knowing that Jeremy would miss him so much. When J got up to make his goodbye speech, he mentioned that the best moment he experienced at Bluevale was at Kaps for Kate in May. As soon as he said that, I was reduced to tears. I think (I`m not positive because I was crying already) he talked about how amazing it was to be a part of the Bluevale community, listening to the choir singing It Takes A Village, conducted by Nancy Kidd, with the Meissners around them. I felt it was a powerful moment for me, but didn`t realize the depth to which it hit others. He`s right though – when I think back to that night, there was lots of hugs, tears, words of support…but above all else, there was love. A love I`ve never felt before…the love of hundreds of people at once. I think my heart almost exploded that night, but I know it definitely melted as I watched this soon to be new father pour his heart out in front of our entire staff.
I`m sure you can see why it was a truly magical week. Thanks to those who got to live it and experience it with us. And a big thank you to my dear Kate – I would be lost without you. Happy birthday week miracle girl! Look at all you've done...it's all because of you, Kate. You're an inspiration and you inspire others to do great things. That's more than I could have ever hoped for my daughter. Well done, baby girl. Well done.
Kelly is Kate's devoted, caring, Type-A mom. Kelly is a high school physics teacher who earned her masters degree in neuroscience from McMaster University in 2003.