[Author’s Note: This isn’t meta per se, but it does contain spoilers, however vague for The Walking Dead and Harry Potter. If you have not seen TWD 6:3 or read Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows, you might want to skip this.]
For those of you who are fans of an ongoing series, whether it be movies, books or a television series will understand the emotional upheaval that comes with the loss of a character so integral to the story; at least in your mind’s view of the characters and the story. Now, I’m almost positive (about 98% sure) that this character is coming back in two weeks, but that doesn’t change the initial feeling of seeing someone you have come to love over the past five years suddenly, and unexpectedly die. Horribly.
The initial ‘oh crap, he’s in a real pickle’ to ‘wait, why isn’t he getting out of said pickle’ to ‘OMGWTFISHAPPENING?! NOOOOOO! NOT HIM!!!!!!’ can suddenly propel you into a deep sadness and sense of denial; deep denial.
I’ve been there, in denial, since the episode aired, and I’m going to stay there for a bit longer. It was one of the reasons I didn’t post yesterday; I just didn’t feel it. I’m only know coming back.
That is the only way I can explain what happened to me between approximately 9:45pm on Sunday night and pretty much right now.
The last time I had this happen so intensely was in the summer of 2007 when JK Rowling killed Fred Weasley. I don’t care who actually said the spell, the Killing Curse, JK’s responsible and she knows it. And no, JK, if you’re reading this, I still have not forgiven you. That emotional upheaval sent me to Live Journal and down the rabbit hole of a world of fan fiction and meta and other passionate fans of all stripes, and it’s safe to say my life will never be the same.
I wouldn’t call what I’m feeling depression. Despite the lethargy, the not wanting to get out of bed, loss of appetite except for the cheese doodle craving, the rewatching of the offending episode, the constant thought processes figuring out his last minute escape, I know that this isn’t a clinical depression or even a situational one. However, that doesn’t mean that these feelings are not real.
It’s very real.
Especially for those who have little by the way of in person family and friends, who find comfort in the escape of a television series that they love, who find a strong support network in fandom.
For some of us, it’s just plain fun. For others, it’s escape; it’s coping; it’s so many things that unless you experience it, you can’t begin to name them all, and they come in multiples as well: fun and escape. Fun and coping. Coping and inspiration.
For me, it’s many of those things.
For those, even those in my own household, who say it’s only a TV show, yes, it is, but it is also more, even to them. Why else would they block out at least an hour each week to watch it? I’ve mentioned that in our family, this is the biggest fall season I can ever remember. My oldest son does a lot of his watching on the internet, but for the rest of us, we have our shows and we love them and we get together practically every day to share in the experience of a new episode.
We watch; we predict; we laugh; we cry. Sometimes we live vicariously through them. I wouldn’t want to experience a zombie apocalypse but I’d like to think that I have the will and the ability to survive it; to continue to live my life; to not lose myself in this new chaotic world.
That is one of the things this character in particular embodied. While other characters changed for the worse, and others have changed for the better, and we learn something from all of them, this character has an inherent goodness that is needed in this seemingly no good future world. He is good, and he’s kind. He’s compassionate and he shows mercy; sometimes when maybe he shouldn’t. But he’s kept his moral compass focused, and to lose that is to lose something special and significant.
I know he’s coming back.
But he might not. Or escaping this, he might die later on in the series.
That’s what I’m mourning these last two days. We’re going to lose him, and we’re going to need to cope with that loss. This was a test of some sort, but all it showed us is how ill-prepared we are and we will be when this character and others like him don’t make it.
What happens when he’s really dead?
The other characters will move on. They’ll mourn, and they’ll cry. They’ll be angry and take their frustrations out maybe where they shouldn’t, but they, along with us will get through it somehow.
We’ll always get through it somehow.
Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, but in recreating lives on television or in books, we get a little bit of a dress rehearsal where we can see our reactions to losing someone we love, to seeing the good in people, and in being able to change our own selves for the better while we still have the chance.
It’s one of the reasons we gravitate towards characters that are both so alike and so different from ourselves. Just in the episode, we saw a character change for the better even if he couldn’t handle the realities of this world.
But that doesn’t mean we give up on the rest of those characters who need to change; who want to change and are changing right before our eyes.
He’s is the only one with enough heart to take them under his wings and teach them to fly; teach us to fly. There is still much to learn and much to do. We need him to guide us there.
While I know he’ll be back, I’m still also mourning. We still lost something. Only time will tell what that is.