I am a big admirer of how J.K. Rowling has been able to weave really deep and meaningful real life concepts into the Harry Potter series. My 10-year-old daughter has read them so many times that I am convinced she is ready to start working on her Harry Potter PhD thesis. I hope that one day Channah will be able to draw as many life lessons from the series as I have.
Within the Harry Potter story there is a ‘children’s book’ called the Tales of Beedle the Bard. It contains a number of fairy tales that wizarding children living in the world of Harry Potter are raised with. It has been published on its own as a book that I enjoy.
The final story is key to the finale of the Harry Potter series. Three brothers create a bridge and use it to cross a river that has taken many lives. Unhappy with the missed opportunity, Death greets them and offers them the ability to choose their reward. It is really a trick Death uses to reclaim the souls that should belong to him.
One brother chooses a wand so powerful it can never be beaten, another chooses a stone to bring back the dead and the last brother chooses a cloak of invisibility.
The brother with the wand makes enemies quickly. As he cannot be beaten in a duel, he is killed in his sleep and death takes the first of the brothers. The second brother uses the resurrection stone to bring back a lost love. He realizes that once someone passes to the next world bringing them back doesn’t return them to life. Struck by grief he commits suicide and Death claims his second victim. The third brother realizes that death can never be beaten, and instead he uses his cloak to hide from Death. After living out a full life he removes his cloak and greets Death with open arms.
There is another aspect to Harry Potter that I find not only hits me on a personal level but is a deep insight into life. After their first year, students return to Hogwarts by what seems to be carriages that appear to be self-propelled. We find out later that these carriages are being pulled by magical winged horses called Thestrals. Thestrals can only be seen by those who have experienced death.
Generally death is a natural and normal part of life. As a result I have been around death a number of times throughout my life. I have only experienced death twice.
Rachel was 32 weeks pregnant and 4 days further ahead gestationaly than Channah made it to. We were in an ambulance with the sirens blaring as we raced towards the closest hospital in Jerusalem. I was calm and reassuring as it was beyond my level of comprehension the horror that was awaiting us. Gabi was either dying or most likely she had probably already died. The hospital staff didn’t even act with any urgency until the first ultrasound technicians face dropped when he couldn’t find a heartbeat. It was only downhill from there as we kept having them check and recheck until Gabi’s death was finally confirmed by the most senior doctor with the most advance ultrasound machine.
Later that afternoon Gabi was born. They did all the regular tests for a new born baby. She was healthier then Channah in every way except her Apgar Score was zero. As soon as they were finished they wrapped her up and gave her to me. I had never held a baby so soon after birth. She was warm and soft and looked and felt just like a healthy baby. The love I could feel from such a little person who would never open her eyes was incredible. I could also smell Death as he took his first victim.
The entire day I had been requesting the hospital to send us an Endocrinologist as we did not know how to handle Gestational Diabetes that had developed during the pregnancy. Finally, late at night a doctor arrived and I felt relieved. When he asked Rachel if she thought she had super powers, I realized they had decided to send a different kind of doctor. Rachel dismissed it as a nurse overhearing her express her grief in a way that caught their attention. She convinced the doctor, myself and those around her that it was just a routine cautionary measure. There was nothing to worry about. Three weeks later, I accidentally thwarted her first suicide attempt. She had fallen into a deep dark depression.
For the next 22 months Rachel’s depression ran our lives. There were a lot of good days where we did our best to be happy and function normally. There were more bad days than good. I would often work in bed just so she wouldn’t be alone. Plans were cancelled on a regular basis to accommodate her inability to face the day or frequent debilitating migraines and fertility treatments. We spent a lot of time in hospitals hoping that maybe this time they would provide the treatment she needed.
I spent many nights agonizing if Rachel was in a state where she would consider harming herself. If Rachel ever became a harm to herself I would have to have her hospitalized. That hospitalization may or may not help her. Hospitalization was guaranteed to end our marriage.
Rachel could not handle the pain of not being able to bring Gabi back. One night she went to bed and didn’t wake up. We don’t know the exact cause of death but I figure that the wear and tear of grief on her body just caused it to give out on her. Death had claimed its second victim.
I have lived in the depths of hell beyond what anyone can imagine. I still have flash backs and nightmares and sometimes I visit what Rachel used to call ‘the bad place’. I have somehow managed to hold it all together. I have a little girl who needs me and an incredible wife by my side to support me. I know Death can’t be beaten. I hope to stay hidden from Death until I have accomplished enough and lived long enough that it would be part of the natural life cycle.
I can see Thestrals. When friends tell me they are expecting I am happy for them but I am also painfully aware of what can go wrong. Sometimes I get scared for them as they are in the same place that I was that day I was riding the ambulance. In theory something could go wrong but they believe it will all be OK. Sometimes I find myself being afraid for them. I don’t want them to see Thestrals too.