Carrie Fisher: 1956-2016
January 23, 2017 Leave a comment
She’s been gone for almost a month now, and I still haven’t been able to put words together here on this blog. I keep waiting for the right words, the best words, but they don’t seem to come. Perhaps they never will. Until then, here are some interim words.
Princess Leia has been a part of my life since I was 8 years old. I almost can’t remember my life without Leia in it. I saw Star Wars when I was a young girl, and immediately started to want to be her (and Luke). I played with my brother’s Star Wars toys. I asked Santa for every Princess Leia action figure and doll they made. I had a doll house and Leia, not some doll, lived in it. I drew her image countless times when I was teaching myself to draw faces. I wrote letters to Carrie Fisher (the kind only a 10 year old can write) and have the autographed picture of her she sent me in response saved in my photo album of Star Wars memorabilia.
Yes, Princess Leia a fictitious character, but she was also a huge part of my childhood. Someone I looked up to. Someone I emulated. I know that the internet is quick to remind everyone who only mentions Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia when they remember that they are missing much of what she was and who she was and what she was important. For the me growing up, Princess Leia was everything.
Growing up, I liked science, math, and engineering. I knew I wanted to do something in the sciences from a very young age. While Leia wasn’t a scientist, she was an ever present example that women were equal to men. Women could be leaders, be looked up to, and take care of themselves and their friends. I never once thought I couldn’t do math, or I couldn’t go to college and graduate school. I never once thought there were things I couldn’t do because I was a woman. I just did them. If Leia could walk in to a room and immediately command respect of those who followed her, I could take advanced calculus and orbital mechanics.
When I heard the news over Christmas break that Carrie Fisher had suffered a cardiac event while on a flight home to LA from London, I braced for the worst. I searched the internet for news of her condition every day. I waited for something positive. When I heard she was in stable condition, I started to hope. Then the news came that she’d passed away and I felt empty. I know that Carrie fought her demons, but she seemed to have possessed some immortal quality. I wasn’t ready to lose her. Her story wasn’t over. She wasn’t done telling it. I wasn’t done listening to it.
My heart goes out to her daughter, Billy. My father died when I was only 26, so I understand the heartbreak of losing a parent (especially one that had their battles with their own chemical demons), just not losing one quite so publicly.
My biggest regret is that I never had the chance to tell Ms Fisher how much she meant to me, how much Princess Leia meant to me. I never got the chance to tell her that I am probably a Rocket Scientist today because her Leia instilled in me the belief that I could do anything I put my mind to. I am sure she heard this same story countless times, and after reading the Princess Diarist, maybe if I had been able to tell her, I think her response would have been.
” I know.”