The death of Alan Rickman saddened me more than I would’ve ever expected from a person I have never met. I was, in fact, a little embarrassed that the news made me cry, but after I figured out why I was feeling that way, it seemed completely natural.
First, I recently lost my mother to cancer, and now the word makes me feel so much both for the people who must suffer through it and for the family who must watch. It is a vile disease that steals a person’s body away, but it is also a disease that brings about more love, understanding and true character than any other I have witnessed.
Second, Alan Rickman did his job remarkably well. So much so, that every time I saw him on screen I fell in love: I personally identified with Alexander Dane, I was captivated by Elliot Marston, I wanted to be wooed by Colonel Christoper Brandon, and, of course, I was madly in love with Professor Severus Snape.
Now I want to start this with three disclaimers, just to get them out of the way.
- I am a recent Harry Potter fan. While I have seen all of the movies, I have yet to finish reading the series. I understand that they are much better and say so much more about this character than I am aware yet, and I can only say that I am looking forward to discovering him more.
- I am a recent Harry Potter fan. I was not allowed to watch or read the series as a child. I support this decision of my parents’ 100% and will probably not allow my children to read the series or watch the movies until they are older. If you want to talk to me about why, feel free to leave a comment.
- I am an enormous Snape fan. I have been thinking about writing down my thoughts for a while now, but they still feel disjointed and not enough. So forgive the length of this post.
Long ago I had a teacher. A sallow-skinned Slytherin with long black hair. I hated him and he seemed to hate me, too. And though I branded him a coward he was, in fact, the bravest man I ever knew.
Always picked on, always misunderstood, always hated. But he was clever and oh, so very brilliant and, despite the lack of love given to him his entire life, he had the largest heart that I have ever seen in any character. He loved so fervently, so irrevocably, that not even after she married his tormentor, not even after she died, did he cease to love her.
And when I say love, I mean love. There are countless characters who “love” so “deeply” that they become cynical, cruel, and revenge-thirsty after their love has been taken from them, whether by another person or by death. Instead, Snape’s love changed him in a completely different way. It saved him from the clutches of death, it brought him to the light, and it allowed him to care for a child that was not his. Snape’s love made his large heart brave and loyal. Snape’s love made him good.
And that’s the only thing that love should ever make us.
She had a way of seeing the beauty in others, even, and perhaps most especially, when that person couldn’t see it in themselves.
I am often so taken by Snape’s profound love for Lilly that I forget that Lilly was a beautiful, loving, and exceptionally kind person. One that is so so so rare in this world. Seeing the good, seeing the beauty in every person, even when they can’t understand it themselves, is what real love is about. And I do not believe that Snape would’ve been the character he turned out to be had Lilly been less of who she was.
Snape and Lilly understood love. And they both allowed that love to transform them.
Cover photo cred: Nathaniel Emmett