I was introduced to Harry Potter from the middle row of a dark movie theater. Blasphemy, I know. The words Harry Potter meant nothing to me at the time; I was just a little kid staying with my cousins- who had read the book- when the film came out, so I got to tag along for the ride. I jumped straight out of my seat when the book started screaming in the restricted section of the library, and nearly lost all of my popcorn in the process.
I was half way through The Half Blood Prince when the last movie released in theaters- late to the party as always. By then careless comments and friends had already spoiled nearly everything for me anyway, so I stood in line for the premiere with all those lucky enough to have been following Harry from book one, excited, if disappointed that I had not read faster, earlier, from the very start.
The one thing that had not been spoiled for me (aside from a few painful deaths I will die in denial of) was the true story of Severus Snape. The first time I experienced the awe of what Snape had endured, the shock of what he had truly been doing all those years, and the heartbreak of his final sacrifice was not through J. K. Rowling’s words, but through Alan Rickman’s portrayal. It was Alan Rickman who brought Snape to life in my mind, and turned him into one of my favorite characters, not just from Harry Potter, but of all time.
It is a strange thing, to mourn someone you have never met and yet who has had so great an impact on your life. I had a quick cry in the shower yesterday morning after I found out, simultaneously grieving and feeling silly for getting so upset over a person I had never actually known. Somehow it felt like losing Severus Snape all over again, like this time he is really gone.
Alan Rickman was much more than Severus Snape, of course. I know that. He was a phenomenally talented actor in all of his work, and an all around remarkable person, as has been shown again and again in the recent tributes of those who knew him. But, for me, the loss will always be felt most acutely within the walls of Hogwarts.
Rest in peace, Alan Rickman. I will think of you every time I open a Harry Potter book, watch the films, or find myself turning to page 394. I hope you knew the impact you had on the Harry Potter generation. You will be greatly missed and well remembered. Always.