We recently endured the first anniversary of our oldest son's passing. To mark the worst day of our lives, we chose to LIVE. We traveled to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with the biggest HP fan I know to celebrate her birthday! I proudly donned my Ravenclaw Quidditch shirt.

 If you're going to Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure, save Harry Potter for later in the day. Everyone marches directly back to Hogwarts, passing all the other islands. Wait a little while, and the lines will die down.

 Universal Studios has this amazing child swap program that saved us so much time. At the front of the rides, they had a room with a TV for parents to take turns. The baby & I watched the Sorting Hat ceremony, while my husband rode & vice versa. Genius! We only had to go through line once, though at this time of day, it was just us.

 The birthday girl & I were shouting "Expecto Patronum" long before Harry told us to, but I still didn't see my patronus! My guess is still tiger.

 The Flight of the Hippogriff was right by Hagrid's hut! I loved the correct geographic position of Hagrid's hut, the greenhouse, Hogsmeade, etc.

  We drank butterbeer while waiting for the house elves to bring us our fish n'chips at the Three Broomsticks. Actually we ate in the shady Hog's Head portion of the restaurant. We kept our heads on a swivel.

 We took turns riding the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, which had all kinds of cool stuff from Goblet of Fire. I rode in the front row of the Hungarian Horntail, while my husband tried the Chinese Fireball. It was an inverted or roller coaster. Those are my favorite. They are so smooth. I screamed & screamed until hoarse. It went so fast that my ponytail came out! 
Roller coasters were an intentional choice for this day. We knew we'd need to scream, and in our culture, theme parks are one of the few safe, socially acceptable places left to scream. More importantly, our oldest son was our daredevil. I always said that he'd be my roller coaster buddy. I distinctly remember thinking of him when my belly dropped during a particularly terrifying corkscrew. He would have loved this. He would have loved this. He would have loved this. At one point, it dawned on me that he would have been able to ride some of these rides this summer.

 We sprinted ran to The Hulk before closing. It's one of those roller coasters that blasts you out. At one point, you go "under water." My legs were so wobbly that I could barely walk. Oh my goodness, incredible! He would have loved this. He would have loved this. He would have loved this.
We didn't get to ride the Hogwarts' Express or see any of Diagon Alley. My husband looked over a fence at one point, and the workers were frantically trying to finish up the train station. I'm okay that we missed it because I didn't feel rushed. I got to look in every shop window & take my time perusing all the details. Next time we go, maybe my son will have read some of the books, & I can spend more time in Diagon Alley.

In all, a magical day. No tantrums. An overcast day, so no need to re-apply the sunblock on our albino children. The high was only 80, and we had a brief sprinkle or two to cool things down even more. We had breaks to fall apart when we encountered children who looked like him or other parents hollered his name. I found the perfect Ravenclaw scarf for my Halloween costume. Drank pumpkin juice and butterbeer to our heart's content. Our friends stayed up with us until we were all too tired to talk, so that we didn't have to wait through that horrible night alone. We drank wine and ate cookies. Take that - sin, death, and the power of the devil.

"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." 1 Corinthians 15:26
~On the headstone of James & Lily Potter, Harry's parents

"I think those two particular quotations he [Harry] finds on the tombstones at Godric's Hollow, they sum up — they almost epitomise the whole series."
~J.K. Rowling

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