I grew up reading the Harry Potter books around the fourth grade, and my obsession has continued into my post-college years.

I was more able to cope with the loss after the final book came out because I would just tell myself, “Oh, it’s OK, there’s still (fill in number here) movies left. I don’t have to say goodbye yet.”

Well friends, goodbye is here, whether we like it or not.

The time has come to say goodbye to Harry, as this week is the last time we will see him on the big screen.

Most of us have grown up with the books. I was lucky enough to be almost the same age as Harry throughout, and as his maturity increased, so did mine. The way I read the first book was completely different from the way I read the seventh because I was a different person.

What’s sad is that even though future generations will still be able to read the books, they won’t have the same experience that we had. They can read all of the books in a month if they want to. We, on the other hand, had to wait patiently until the next one came out.

After reflecting upon this entire experience, I’ve come to decide that Harry Potter has helped us make sense of the world and cement basic life lessons (such as the ones listed below) into our minds, hearts and souls. As Harry grew, so did we.

The battle of good vs. evil

We learn early on in the first book that evil is out there. However, even though the evil and dark parts of the world exist, we still feel that the good guys will always win. Throughout the rest of the series, we aren’t always sure if good will triumph over evil. Sometimes, it doesn’t. But that’s how real life is. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. This concept is a hard one to grasp, but the books help to flesh this out.

Dealing with loss

While all of us have lost something, not all of us have had to deal with it in as large of a quantity as Harry had to. He lost both of his parents when he was a baby — a truly tragic beginning. We see him deal with this loss throughout the series. He isn’t able to compartmentalize the sadness he feels into one part of his life. The death of his parents haunts him throughout, which is how real life is. When we deal with loss, we deal with it forever. We are taught through the novels that it is OK to look back and to mourn what has gone from our lives.

Gaining responsibility

Before Harry was even able to read or write, he had a huge weight on his shoulders. The Boy Who Lived slowly finds out throughout the course of his life that the future of the entire magical world rests upon him. While most of us (hopefully) don’t have that much of a burden to carry around with us, we all have had to step up and become responsible for one thing or another. We learned from Harry how to mature and grow into our responsibilities the older we became. As his priorities shifted, so did ours.

A loss of innocence

The world is not just black and white. Even the best of people have bad intentions. The world isn’t always what it seems, and everything can’t be fixed with the flick of a wand. As we delved deeper and deeper into the series, we slowly grew with Harry in realizing that the world will never be perfect. This is a hard lesson to learn, probably the hardest, and it isn’t one that Harry quickly learns. It takes him several books to fully grasp this, and even longer to accept it. When we experienced that same learning process in conjunction with Harry, we knew we weren’t alone in discovering this.

Harry Potter

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The lessons we have learned alongside the beautiful fantasy world that J.K. Rowling laid out for us proved to be an amazing escape from the troubles of real life. One that has a permanent mark on my life.

Harry, it’s been a long ride, but a good one. Thanks for the memories!

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