The thing you have to understand

The thing you have to understand about Alzheimer’s is that there are no survivors. The prognosis is never good. It is, in fact, always death. I think this is what makes raising awareness for Alzheimer’s so difficult. With other diseases there is always an aspect of hope and the ability to rally around that hope can be incredibly powerful. This does not exist with Alzheimer’s.

The thing you have to understand about Alzheimer’s is that it is a mental illness, and therefore invisible. As a society, we don’t do a great job of treating invisible illnesses with the same empathy we do physical illnesses. They make us uncomfortable. They make us fearful for our own mental health. They make us want to stay away.

The thing you have to understand about Alzheimer’s is that it takes away everything you ever knew. And not in the cheesy way The Notebook depicts where a beautiful love story can magically bring back your memories. I’m talking about an irreversible process that slowly denies you the ability to do everything you once knew how to do. Speak. Use the bathroom by yourself. Eat.

The thing you have to understand about Alzheimer’s is that it makes other people sad. They don’t want to remember you as a husk of your former self. So they stay away, hoping to instead remember you as you once were: a vibrant human with interests and passions.

The thing you have to understand about Alzheimer’s is that while you might have the option to stay away, those closest to the person diagnosed with the disease do not have that luxury. They are in the trenches day in and day out, slowly seeing their loved one leave them inch by painful inch. There is no escape for the caregivers. There is no option to stay away.

The thing you have to understand about Alzheimer’s is that it doesn’t just take away the memories of the person affected. It takes away the memories you have of that person and replaces them with difficult and painful memories. And though you try to keep hold of the good ones, as the years progress the painful memories become more prevalent, pushing the older and happier memories to the recesses of the brain.

The thing you have to understand about Alzheimer’s is that it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Every 66 seconds someone in the U.S. develops the disease. That you are more likely to die of Alzheimer’s than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. And that by 2050 it is estimated 16 million Americans might be affected by the disease.

The thing you have to understand about Alzheimer’s is that it is not a natural consequence of aging, but it does affect those who are older. And isn’t that the goal? To grow old and to be able to enjoy life after putting in years and years of hard work? But this is being denied not only to those with the disease, but those who are charged with caring for them.

The thing you have to understand about Alzheimer’s is that I’m over it. The thing you have to understand is that I am going to do everything I can to make sure that other families are spared the heartache my family experienced. The thing you have to understand is I can’t do it alone. Please consider making a donation to The Longest Day this year.

Statistics courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association:





In Loving Memory of Xanthula Tripolitis


When Xanthula was a young girl, she was very self-conscious about the size of her feet. She confessed this to her Yiayia Eleni, with whom she was very close. In order to cheer her up, YIayia Eleni took her to the birdcage at the St. Louis Zoo. Once inside, she pointed out the peacock to Xanthula. “What do you see?” asked Yiayia Eleni. Xanthula described the beauty of the bird, noting its magnificent tail feathers. After she had finished, Yiayia Eleni then suggested Xanthula take a look at the peacock’s feet. Peacock feet, if you weren’t familiar, are scaly, brown, and oddly shaped. “You are like a peacock,” Yiayia Eleni said to Xanthula, “Although you may not have pretty feet, everything else about you is so beautiful that no one will ever notice.”

I love this story. I am so thankful that Yiayia Eleni inspired confidence in Xanthula in such a young age, because I believe it laid a foundation that allowed her to grow into the formidable woman she would become.

Xanthula married Theodore Tripolitis in 1947. Theodore, as many of you know, enjoyed working just a little bit. Xanthula stayed at home and raised the couple’s daughter Elaine, whom she had named after her beloved yiayia. As her daughter grew older, Xanthula began to develop many varied interests and passions that would stay with her for the rest of her life.

Her passion for gardening and preservation of natural resources led her to the world of civic duty, and in 1971 she launched a successful campaign to join the Crestwood Board of Alderman. Now, knowing my yiayia, it shouldn’t surprise me that she was anything but successful in her bid for public office. However, as any good government teacher can tell you, the chances of a female with an ethnic last name winning public office in the early 1970s were not great. But win she did, and she would continue to work for her beloved city of Crestwood for decades to come in one capacity or another.

Her commitment to her interests and passions stemmed from her incredible determination. Once Xanthula decided she was going to do something, she didn’t just do it 100%, she did it 200%. She didn’t just run for office for the public recognition, she ran because she decided that something needed to be fixed in her city and she was going to fix it. Anyone who was ever foolish enough to get in her way soon learned that she was not the type of woman to back down once she had decided on a course of action, and it was best for everyone involved if you moved out of her way. I know this from personal experience. After we adopted my sister Anna, we had a family discussion about what her middle name should be. Because I had really wanted a dog and instead gotten a sister, I thought a good consolation prize would be to give her the middle name “Allison.” Needless to say, I was overruled, and my sister has the honor of having the name “Anna Xanthula.”

Growing up, I don’t know that I fully appreciated how exceptional my yiayia was. To me, she was just my yiayia. We would watch “Days of our Lives” together and feed the birds in her garden. Every Sunday Yiayia and Papou would come over for a family dinner, my favorite of which was the incredible spaghetti she would make. I look back on these times and feel blessed to have been able to spend so much time with not only her, but with both of my grandparents.

I had a hard time writing this eulogy. As many of you know, most of my recent memories of my yiayia revolve around the Alzheimer’s she struggled with through the end of her life. However, I was able to recapture many of my memories through watching family videos and looking back on photographs of happier times.

Something else that helped me was finding a note that she had written to me a year after I was born. In it she writes of her love for me, and how much she loves being a yiayia. She also speaks to the future, and I am going to share some of her words with you now.

“I try to guess what interests you will have twenty years from now—I know you are going to be a very good dresser, adorn yourself with lots of yiayia’s beads, love to dance, very sociable, drive a jazzy car, worry about your hair (like your mama), probably have a pleasant singing voice, be very very good in school, probably play the drums (only kidding) maybe do some modeling—and hopefully, if I’m not around—think lovingly of me.”

Yiayia’s predictions for my life are almost 100% accurate (and would be 100% accurate if my mother had allowed me to get that silver Mustang I wanted when I turned 16 instead of the “safer,” and more “practical” Camry). I am so thankful that I got to spend 25 years on this earth with such an incredible woman.

To close, I would like to share one last story. My yiayia was 25, the same age as I am, when she lost her beloved Yiayia Eleni. This was a devastating loss to her, as her loss is to me. One difference, however, is that at the time my yiayia was pregnant with my mother, something she had not yet had the chance to tell Yiayia Eleni. She deeply regretted this, and missed her Yiayia Eleni immensely. However, she got the chance a few weeks later as she lay sleeping when her Yiayia Eleni came to her in a dream. My yiayia always spoke of this dream as if it were a visit from Yiayia Eleni from heaven. I will go to sleep every night hoping for a similar visit, and will, as she predicted 20 years ago, think of lovingly of her forever.

In Memory of Theodore Tripolitis


We are here today to remember the life of Theodore Peter Tripolitis. All of us here today will remember him differently, as he achieved so much over the course of his 90 years.

He was the young son of Greek immigrants; a first generation American. His stubborn nature was apparent early in his life. After wearing a traditional Greek evzone (aka the white skirt soldier uniform) for a church event, Papou refused to face mockery and stares on the bus and instead decided make the five-mile walk home. Growing up during the Great Depression taught him the value of a dollar, the importance of hard work, and his love of baseball.

Some of you may remember him as a young writer and violinist who dreamed of going to college and joining a symphony, only to have those dreams dashed due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Some of you may remember him as a member of the 20th Armored Division in WWII, where as part of the Army Specialized Training Program he served among the best and the brightest of the greatest generation and fought for freedom overseas in France.

He was a husband for 67 years to Xanthula, whom he decided to marry after declaring her the most beautiful Greek girl in St. Louis upon their first meeting. Although she wasn’t originally as enthusiastic as he (she thought he was too skinny) she eventually agreed to marry him when he proposed on the Forest Park Streetcar uttering the words “I’m sick of riding this streetcar to see you; let’s get married.” It was with Xanthula that he gained another title, that of Father, to their daughter Elaine.

Many of you probably have memories of him in a more official capacity—As the founder and longtime owner of Hydra Sponge Company. My papou built this company from nothing, and I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that it was basically a sixth member of our family. Seven days a week, 365 days a year (yes, even on Christmas) he was at the factory. I remember Yiayia saying that if “Wheel of Fortune” ever went off the air he would never come home. But home he did come around 6:30 every day, much to the delight of his two granddaughters.

And it is as Papou that I will remember him. I am thankful he taught me how to play poker, how to whistle, how to tell a great joke and how to root for the St. Louis Cardinals. It is because of him that my family first went to Disney World and stayed at the Grand Floridian. It is from him that I received my writing and musical abilities, and, to my eternal chagrin, my nose. I hope that someday I shall achieve a modicum of what he was able to over his lifetime, and that I’m able to continue his legacy of humor and unfailing generosity.

Now, if you are very lucky, you are the proud owner of a signed copy of his book, “Thought-Provoking and Witty Witticisms from the pen of Ted Tripolitis.” My papou adored the English language and found such great joy in writing and sharing his writing with others, so I think it’s only fitting today to leave you with his own words that I think perfectly describe him: “A great man is not measured by his physical stature—but by the heights he reaches by his achievements!” Papou, you reached such great heights. I love you, and I hope there is a lot of ice cream and apple pie waiting for you in heaven.




You should be watching…Doctor Who

It started innocently enough. Late at night, unable to fall asleep, I pulled up Netflix. I had planned on finally joining the rest of the world in its Breaking Bad obsession, but thinking it too intense for before bed, I went in a slightly different direction. And so, instead of finding myself immersed in a world of tighty-whiteys and meth, I instead entered a world of blue police boxes and Daleks*.

And what a world it is. Although the formula for Doctor Who episodes are all basically the same—Doctor and companion arrive at a location, Doctor and companion encounter trouble, Doctor and companion almost die, Doctor comes up with brilliant solution and saves the day—each episode still manages to surprise and thrill. Although on a surface level it might appear to simply be a sci-fi show, it is so much more, which can be contributed to both the writing and the acting. All four men who have filled or will fill the Doctor’s shoes since the 2005 reboot have brought something unique to the table, and the passing of the torch from show runner Russell T. Davies to Steven Moffat wasn’t nearly as jarring as the great Sorkin schism after season four of The West Wing**.

However, I think its true appeal is in the simple truth that everyone, at one time or another, goes through a stage where they wish someone would appear to take them away from the doldrums of everyday life. This is what the Doctor does for his companions, and this is what the show does for the viewers. Who wouldn’t want to visit a planet made entirely out of diamonds or solve a murder case with Agatha Christie? It is this simple truth that has allowed the show such longevity, first in its original 27 year run, and in its current incarnation, going strong since 2005. So, when deciding your next binge-watching show, I highly recommend Doctor Who. If you start now, you have until Autumn to make it through seven seasons before the premiere of not only a new season, but a new doctor. To quote the 10th Doctor, “Allons-y!”

*Scary aliens

**You know what I’m talking about


A fan’s farewell to The Office

I’d like to take this moment to say goodbye to some friends who will be leaving me today. I am, of course, speaking of my friends from Scranton: Jim, Pam, Dwight, Oscar, Kevin, Angela, Stanley, Phyllis and the rest of the gang (Except for Toby, of course). Every Thursday night since 2006 (with the exception of my semester abroad) I have watched The Office. I have followed every kiss and heartbreak of Jim and Pam’s love story, every jello-ed stapler of Jim and Dwight’s prank wars and every foot of Michael’s that was burned on a George Foreman Grill, which is the best episode of the series in my opinion.

Remember how weird it was the first season? Michael Scott was a bad version of David Brent with a greasy haircut, and Mindy Kaling wore weird ruffled blouses.  In short, if you had told me after I watched the pilot that seven years later I’d still be watching the show religiously every week I wouldn’t have found that realistic.

Now, I’m not so enamored as to think that it is still the same caliber that it was during its heyday, but compared to some of the drivel the networks pump out each fall, it still has the power to keep me smiling from week to week. So, what has made this love affair so strong?

I’d have to say a fair amount of the credit goes to my undying love for John Krasinski, who, if anyone was confused if he is the perfect man or not, need only to watch him lip-sync Teenage Dream.

But it’s more than that. I love The Office because at a time in my life when I still wasn’t sure who I was, it made me feel like it was okay to embrace my inner weirdo and let my freak flag fly. Everyone who works at Dunder Mifflin has their special quirks, (Angela and her cats come to mind) but at the end of the day they all accept each other for who they are. That is the legacy The Office will leave with me. It also, thankfully, leaves the legacy of Parks and Recreation which is currently the funniest show on TV.

So thank you, The Office. Not only did you teach me it was okay to be myself, but you also taught me that the worst thing about prison is the dementors, as well as to be careful where putting my foot should I attempt to make a bedside breakfast. You taught me the importance of a well-placed “that’s what she said” joke, and how to commit the perfect crime. To paraphrase Michael Scott, I’m afraid of how much I loved you. The experience, to say the least, has been extremely satisfying (that’s what she said).

Adventures at Middle School

After spending the last month working with Middle School kids, I’ve discovered a few remarkable things such as…

1. They’ve never experienced Justin Timberlake’s hair like this:


2. When I asked them if they knew who Nelly was they responded, “I’ve heard a few of his songs.” As a St. Louisan who grew up in the 90s, I find this offensive.

3. They’ve never been able to romantically run after someone all the way to the gate at the airport because they were born somewhere between 1999-2001. September 11, 2001 is simply a history lesson to them, instead of something they will never forget.

4. By the time they reached an age where they could read chapter books there were already SIX Harry Potter books available for them to read.

5. Speaking of which, not all of them have read Harry Potter. This. Is. Mind-boggling.

6. If they know candy is on the line they can be motivated to do just about anything. (Okay, to be fair my graduate class professor recently tried this on us, and it is totally a great motivator.)

7. Not all of them have seen The Lion King. I really blame the parents for this one.

8. The discovery of things like adult diapers in the grocery store aisle is the GROSSEST and the WEIRDEST thing possible.

9. They are incapable of understanding the true age of people. This is evidenced by the fact that after telling me the story about the adult diapers they asked if I have to wear them. Not quite yet kids, not quite yet.

10. They are the goofy and kindhearted and teaching them is so much more joyful than I could have ever imagined.

Downton Disney

As I was planning my potential Disney Christmas Vacation, I found myself accidently typing the phrase Downtown Disney as Downton Disney. And, lo, a blogpost was formed. There have been multiple parodies of Downton Abbey, including but not limited to Downton Arby’s, Dogton Abbey and of course SNL’s Spike TV spoof, and it’s very possible that someone has already made a list of Disney Character Downton Abbey parallels. But, as it were, I’m trying to avoid some graduate school work at the moment and thought I’d take a spin at it. So, here, in all its glory, my version of Downton Disney (WARNING: Contains slight spoilers. But you probably should have watched it already. It’s a cultural phenomenon!)


Lord and Lady Grantham: Mickey and Minnie—Despite beginning their marriage on different terms, the Granthams have a solid and loving relationship, just like the top mice. Without Mickey and Minnie/Lord and Lady Grantham, the entire foundation of their respective worlds would crumble. It is their respect and love that keeps the entire dynasty going. Plus, we all know that Lady Grantham/Minnie are the ones who really wear the pants in their relationships.


The Dowager: This was the trickiest character. Forget the fact that the majority of older women in Disney movies are either evil or doting, And honestly, I don’t know that the Dowager can be compared to anyone. She doesn’t know what a weekend or a swivel chair is, and she doesn’t care who knows it. Therefore she doesn’t just get one Disney comparison she gets an equation. The Dowager=Duchess the cat’s pedigree+Tinkerbell’s sassiness+Maleficent’s sense of style and ability to make an entrance.

Lady Mary: Jasmine—Jasmine and Lady Mary both face similarly male-dominated worlds. Neither can inherit what is rightfully theirs and must marry if they are to have any of their family’s wealth. Both are headstrong and beautiful with a seemingly never-ending line of suitors. And frankly, given Agrabah’s geographical proximity to Turkey, who am I to say that a Turkish man never ended up in a compromising position in Jasmine’s bedroom before Aladdin took her on that magic carpet ride?

Matthew Crawley: Aladdin—Although Matthew Crawley wasn’t exactly a Street Rat, in Victorian England, he might as well have been for all the distance there was between upper middle class and the residents of Downton. Although both eventually bring their credentials up to snuff, love comes slowly for Jasmine/Lady Mary, no matter how many elephants or attempts to break the entail the men present to their lady loves.

Lady Edith: Alice—Poor Edith. She’s just the worst. Constantly in the shadow of her more accomplished older sister, similar to Alice, and she is constantly poking her nose where it doesn’t belong, also just like Miss Alice.  Every time she opens her mouth I just want to be like, “Ugh, Edith, we get it you have an inferiority complex.” Actually, the only reason I didn’t make Lady Edith Iago is because she slightly redeems herself in Season 2 by helping out with the war effort.

Lady Sybil: Belle—Lady Sybil doesn’t fit in with her upper class family, just like Belle didn’t fit in with her simple town. Both dream of being more than what society has in store for them; Belle shows her rebellion by reading books, and Sybill shows hers by wearing strange genie pants and becoming a nurse. Both fall in love with men that their families don’t exactly approve of, but both have the inner strength to follow their heart and eventually find happiness.

Tom Branson: The Beast—Even though Branson is adorable and not a hideous beast, he might as well have been for all the Crawley Clan thought of Sybil marrying him. The Beast and Branson both participate in activities society frowns upon (promoting revolutionary antics and mackin’ on the Lord’s daughter; destroying perfectly nice furniture and locking helpless old men in dungeons), but underneath their rough exteriors lies a heart of gold and a penchant for brown-haired beauties.

Anna Smith: Ariel—Now, Anna might not be as feisty as Ariel, but once she decides she loves Mr. Bates she portrays the same ferocious adoration for him that Ariel displays for Eric. Sure, they both face obstacles to their love; one has to leave behind her family and original limbs and the other learns that her beloved is married and a potential murderer, but neither one cares—it’s true love!

Mr. Bates: Eeyore—Poor Mr. Bates. He just can’t seem to catch a break! First everyone makes fun of him because he walks funny, and then his psycho ex-wife tries to ruin his life! However, just like Eeyore, who has Pooh, Piglet and the rest of the gang to help him rebuild his house and find his tale, Mr. Bates has a great support system in the form of Anna and Lord Grantham.

Mr. Carson: Cogsworth—If Cogsworth and Mr. Bates ever met, I feel it would be a bromance at first sight. They could commiserate about how the other servants don’t uphold the honor of their great houses, and what the best way to polish silver is.

Thomas: Gaston—Noooooo onnnnneeee sneaks around like Thomas bums a smoke like Thomas, likes to fake a war injury to avoid combat like Thomas! Gaston and Thomas are not only physically similar, but share a single-mindedness toward their ambitions in life: Thomas wants to be a Valet/Black market Businessman; Gaston wants to marry Belle. Unfortunately for them (but luckily for us) their reckless ambitions lead them into some pretty tragic territory, though Thomas has avoided plunging into a stormy abyss…for now.

*Thank you to Marina Jacobe for finding these picture for me after I asked her to read this.

That time I thought my mom was a vampire. Seriously.

I don’t remember exactly the first time I came to the conclusion that my mom was a vampire, but for several months when I was three years old I was convinced that she was. This wasn’t the first time my imagination had run away from me, nor would it be the last. In the years to come I would continually check the back of our wardrobe for a passage to Narnia, and I truly believed that one day, if I jumped high enough, I would be able to fly. I was heartbroken when I didn’t get my Hogwarts letter when I turned 11, and once when my yiayia was babysitting me I was exposed to a plotline on Days of our Lives that involved a bomb in the trunk of a car making it impossible for me to get into the car before sneaking glances into the trunk of our car before departing for anywhere.

Needless to say, much like any other child my imagination was bolstered by things I read or watched on TV. And although I don’t remember it, a vampire must have entered into my consciousness through some channel at this time in my life. But how did I come to the conclusion that my mother was a vampire?

True she does have pale skin, but she never showed an affinity for cloaks or a fear of garlic. She was also one of the most fun moms around—she willingly would sit on a beach towel with me every time I watched Aladdin and pretend it was a magic carpet—and never gave me any cause to be afraid of her. Whatever my three-year-old reasoning was, it remains a mystery.

Now, I coped with the discovery of my vampire mom much like any child. When she came to kiss me goodnight, I would pull my covers up around my neck so that she couldn’t bite me and drain me of all my blood/turn me into a vampire. I also tried really hard to examine the pointiness of her teeth whenever she talked, though not really understanding different types of teeth at age three, this was mostly a bust. As this was a pre-Twilight fear, I believed vampires only emerged at night, and therefore only feared my mother when she came in at night to kiss me goodnight (hence the brilliant defensive technique of pulling my covers up around my neck), allowing our relationship to continue as normal during the daytime.

After a few months I either came to the conclusion that she wasn’t a vampire or decided that if she were going to turn me into a vampire than she would have already done it. I also think at this point in my life I started to become obsessed with Mary Poppins, and most of my free time was spent trying to coax robins to land on my finger by singing to them as well as trying to clean my room by merely snapping my fingers. Maybe there is such a thing as too much imagination…

Remembering 9/11

It was school picture day. I was wearing my favorite blue tank, a really cool headband and I thought I looked pretty great (see photo to the right for proof of how cute I really was). I remember being annoyed that morning because I had gym first thing, meaning that my hair would get messed up before I had the chance to get my photo taken. After gym came orchestra. At that point it was 8:30 a.m. CST. Disaster had already struck yet I have no memory of my orchestra teacher indicating that anything was wrong in the world.  It wasn’t until I got to Social Studies with Mr. Rheinecker third hour that we learned that something was wrong. Mr. Rheinecker was the best sort of teacher. He didn’t coddle us and instead calmly explained what had happened. I don’t exactly remember how he explained it, but I remember being confused. I had never been to New York and had no real concept of what the World Trade Center was or even what a terrorist attack was. In the 12 years I had been on the planet my life had been sheltered. Planes were something I associated with fun and Disney World, not attacks.

The school didn’t want teachers showing us footage of the events, and Mr. Rheinecker, probably because he was going crazy not knowing what was going on, told me to get on the computer to find out information about what was going on. Proud to have such an important task, I set about gathering information while Mr. Rheinecker attempted to teach class. With 10 minutes to go in class I shared the information I had learned with the class. The only fact I remember was that papers from the World Trade Center had been found an ungodly amount of miles away.

The next hour of the day was Spanish and my teacher, Mrs. Kenyon, did the exact opposite of Mr. Rheinecker. She cried for about 25 minutes and then, abandoning any semblance of teaching, gave the girls mirrors so we could look at our hair before we took our pictures as we weren’t allowed to leave the classroom that day. Looking back, it seems so silly to be worried about hair, but at that point, not having seen any TV footage, none of us understood really what was going on.

That day rumors abounded. We kept hearing helicopters fly over the school and, realizing that perhaps The Arch or Boeing could be a target, I began to feel a hint of fear for what was happening. However it wasn’t until I got home and watched footage from the day on TV that I started to understand exactly what had happened.

But even then life went on. I went to dance class that night, did my homework and went to bed. My mom seemed upset–later she would tell me she saw the second plane crash live on TV–but I didn’t quite grasp what had happened that day.

Ten years later, as I watch specials about the attack, I grasp it. At 12 years old I still thought I was immortal. At 22 years old and a recent college graduate, my grasp on real life is about as strong as it can get. Ten years ago when I watched the footage I felt a detached sadness. Now I can’t watch a minute of it without crying. It’s almost as if 10 years of watching the same footage and 10 years of knowledge that if this happened once, it can happen again have finally hit me.

That day 10 years ago I got my picture taken. That photo is like a portal into a different world. When I look at it I see a girl who knew war as a topic to study in school, not as a reality. I see a girl who didn’t think twice about getting onto an airplane. (I also see a girl who still thought it was okay to wear the same color jean jacket as her capris but we won’t get into that here). I see a girl who didn’t realize that there was actual evil in this world and that it didn’t only exist in movies. In short, I see a girl who was innocent of the world around her.

I won’t claim that I grew older and wiser in the days immediately following 9/11/01. But the roots of growing up were placed that day, not only for me, but for my entire generation. Our most formidable years have been spent growing up in an uncertain world, and we have become different people than who we might have been because of it. I pray that my generation won’t have to go through something like this again, though I know it probably will. I pray for peace, I pray for a world free of fear and I pray that someday little girls will be able to get their school pictures taken in a world a little bit less scary than the one that was created on that school picture day 10 years ago.

The Order of the Phoenix, or The first time I cried during a Harry Potter Book


You can’t say she didn’t warn us. After Cedric’s death in the fourth book Rowling made it clear that a more beloved character would be getting the old Avada Kedavra in the fifth installment. She even did a good job of tricking the reader throughout the book. The first bit of trickery occurs when Mrs. Weasley is battling a bogart and Harry walks in and sees it in the shape of Ron’s dead body. Good news, it’s just Mrs. Weasley being afraid that her entire family is going to die.

The second false alarm is of course the attack on Arthur Weasley by Nagini. According to Rowling, she originally planned for Mr. Weasley to die but at the last moment gave him a reprieve. I believe this was the right decision, though when death does finally strike the Weasley family it is possibly one of the most tragic deaths of the series.

But she couldn’t keep tricking us. And that is why we must say goodbye to Sirius Black, who was one of my favorite characters in the books. Not only was he a link to Harry’s parents and their past, he also served as the first person that Harry could consider family. Losing him was like losing a parent for Harry all over again, only worse this time because he was old enough to remember it. It was an awful loss to the series and made it very clear that no character, however beloved, was safe.

Alas, we should have known that she was easing us into the shock of the deaths that would take place in the final two books.