I don’t want to say this tragic story turned into a happy ending, because I’m sure this girl would trade all the “Harry Potter” memorabilia in the world not to have suffered the tremendous losses that she did. Every now and again, though, it’s nice to be reminded that even the darkest clouds have a silver lining.
In early July, a gunman came into Cassidy’s home. He shot and killed her parents and her four siblings, who ranged in age from four to 14, before moving on to kill her grandparents. Cassidy played dead after the bullet intended for her hit her finger and grazed her skull. Then, once she was safe, she alerted the authorities, saying the gunman had murdered her parents and was on his way to commit the same terrible crime against her grandparents. The suspect, Ronald Lee Haskell, who has since been arrested, was a former family member. He was her mother’s sister’s ex-husband.
Cassidy, who was impossibly poised and composed at her family’s memorial service, quoted Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
If that show of strength doesn’t make you sob openly, I don’t know what will–I’m crying hysterically as I write this. People were so moved by Cassidy’s story that someone started a Facebook group in an attempt to help Cassidy meet her idol, J.K. Rowling, who is the author of the “Harry Potter” book series. Almost like magic, J.K. Rowling got the message.
According to a post on that Facebook page, J.K. Rowling was so touched by Cassidy’s story that she reached out to Cassidy personally, sending her a hand-written letter in the style of Dumbledore (with purple ink, naturally) as well as a wand, a Hogwarts acceptance letter, a school supply list, and a signed book.
Allegedly, Rowling was so touched by the story after seeing it reported by various news outlets that she sought out Cassidy’s contact information personally to get in touch.
Again, this is a senseless, horrible tragedy, and I don’t even think Harry Potter himself (not Daniel Radcliffe, the actual Harry Potter come to life) could cast a spell powerful enough to make her feel better about such a tragedy, but it’s nice to see that even in the darkest and most horrible tragedies, something good can happen to someone so strong who suffered so much and lost almost everything.
In short, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
As Cassidy said, “I know that my mom, dad, Bryan, Emily, Becca, and Zach are in a much better place and that I’ll be able to see them again one day. Stay strong.”
Bless you, you incredible, incredible human being. Stay strong.