Thursday, January 14, 2016

After All This Time? Always. A Farewell to Alan Rickman.

It has been a rough week, hasn't it? Cancer and all that it takes from us has reared its ugly and public head again. Earlier this week, it took David Bowie. This time, Alan Rickman. The element of shock makes it all seem more sudden, as neither of them had told the world about their diagnoses.

Not that they should have felt compelled to, by the way.

Celebrities are allowed to be sick without us knowing. They are allowed to die in private, away from the glaring eyes and the snapping cameras. They are allowed. 

We forget that sometimes, especially in a world so prone to oversharing. We live in a society where some people use this very disease as a platform. They start Facebook pages and Instagram accounts and make it all public, ask for prayers, beg for miracles. And that's all well and good for those who choose that path. Each journey is our own.

And yet, not everyone is like that. Some people prefer to keep it all secret until the end. I respect that more than words can express.

To be honest, it kind of makes sense that Rickman would take something like this to his grave. After all, he was the man who brought Severus Snape to life, who knew the great secrets and kept them until they were finally revealed in the end.

He was an actor for years before he arrived at Hogwarts, this is true. One that I'd already loved, for sure.

He was Hans, oh was he Hans. The baddest bad guy to ever try and ruin Christmas.

He was Sheriff Nottingham. Of course he was.

He was Metatron. Wax on, wax off.

He was Alexander Dane, the annoyed veteran actor who always took his craft seriously.

He was Harry, and he didn't just break Emma Thompson's heart. He broke ours too.

He even left us a gift for later, voicing the Caterpillar in Alice Through the Looking Glass.

He was all of those characters and so many more, but there's one that means more to the people in my house. One that united us in anger, in loathing, in confusion, and finally in love. He was Severus Snape.

"Ootp076" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -
Harry Potter holds a special place in my heart, and will do so forever because of the way it came into our lives. I decided long before my children were old enough to know anything about the books or the films, that I wanted to share it, all of it, with them. I insisted that we read the books before they saw the films.

We read the first four books together several years ago over the summer. My eldest child, a newly confident reader, would take turns reading aloud to the others with me. We started the journey slowly, with just a chapter a day. We would read in the afternoon as the thunderstorms formed in the sky. Often, my youngest at the time would fall asleep midway through, the others urging just one more chapter as they were pulled further and further, deeper and deeper into this imaginary land. Soon, they were pouring over the books, begging to just get to the end. They needed to know what happened.

Once we'd finish a volume, we'd watch the movie almost immediately

They'd pick apart the differences, catalog all the variations in the story telling. And as soon as the credits rolled, they'd be bringing me the next book, eager to start again.

My older two children grew up with Hermione, with Ron, with Harry. They adored Hagrid, they marveled at Dumbledore, they feared Snape.

They hated him.

Until they understood him.

My oldest finished the series by the end of that year, then had to wait for the rest of the movies to come out. My older daughter is finishing up the 5th book now. I'm starting it again with the younger kids, and I feel like I'm going back to Hogwarts all over again myself, but with a new perspective. A deeper understanding.

It all means more this time because now I know who Snape was.

Rowling created him. Rickman made him.

It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I shared the video of the important Snape scenes in chronological order with my children. The video is long, but well worth watching if you haven't seen it before. My daughter was beside herself by the end. I cry every time I watch it. You'll realize, if you haven't already, that Snape is one of the most interesting characters ever written, and that Rickman's portrayal was essential to making it all work.

Rickman, having been told Snape's secret while they were shooting the first movie, long before J.K. Rowling had even finished writing the series, was in charge of protecting everything about Snape's motivations. He had to play the bad guy who never was, but he had to do it in such a way that he was able to convince us all. In secret. And he did.

He made us hate him, then he showed us how entirely wrong we were.

For that, for teaching my children the depth of his character, for portraying undying love and devotion, and for keeping the secret for as long as he did, he has my endless gratitude.

Thank you Mr. Rickman.

Thank you.



  1. Kelly, this brought me to tears. Beautifully done.

  2. In tears right now remembering reading the books with my oldest child. Time to get them out again to read to the younger 2

  3. I just read an interview with him. He said he didn't know the full secret, but she let him know Snape was complex. I'm so grateful he was Snape. He truly was Snape. I could not imagine Snape any other way. I'm just sad, that in a few years, I'll have to inform my daughter that he's not on this Earth anymore. I just know she'll love him, as I did, and want to see him in more movies. Loved this post!


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