I’ve spent the last fortnight trying to process the death of Carrie Fisher. There will never be words enough for it. Nothing I can write will ever fully convey my grief and loss for a woman who I never met, but looked up to my entire life. But, I need to try.
My birth coincided with the release of Return of the Jedi. In fact, my brothers are also Star Wars babies. P was born in time for A New Hope (if you’ve met him, it’s sadly apt) and B was the harbinger of The Empire Strikes Back.
She was, as many young girls born before the Disney Princess craze can say, MY princess. She was a badass. She was everything I was going to be. I would save the galaxy, tame my own Han Solo, have fantastic hair, and be a self rescuing princess. When I was four, I landed in the doctor’s office after an afternoon of playing Star Wars with my brothers. On snow days we would watch the whole trilogy. Later, in middle school and high school, I would spend rainy weekends playing with Legos watching the trilogy over and over and over again. Princess Leia defined my dream for the woman I would become. Maybe not necessarily a space princess, though I still think that would be amazing, but a strong, no nonsense woman would be perfect for me.
As an adult with a mental illness, Carrie Fisher once again became my hero. While our diagnoses were different, she made it less shameful. She showed me what pride looked like and that a mental illness doesn’t make the princess disappear. In fact, it helps you get away with dressing like one on a daily basis. She helped me see that even if I spent today lying in bed, eating ice cream, and crying, tomorrow I can get up and move on and, in a few weeks, maybe laugh at it. Her skilled writing has made me proud to be a writer and I wish I had as strong a voice. When she returned to the screen as Princess, sorry, General Leia Organa, I was so excited I cried when I saw her on the screen. Look how far my heroine had come. Still fighting the good fight and kicking ass. This was everything I needed from her.
I have often said that the celebrity death I could not handle would be Julie Andrews, and I still believe that will be a dark day for me, but the idea that Carrie would leave never even crossed my mind. She seemed immortal in her humor and tenacity, and not just because of her iconic character. She was so funny, so raw, so beautiful, so honest, and one of the most beautiful people to have ever walked the planet. She was my hero. She was my princess. She always will be both to me. Thank you Leia for showing me the way and thank you Carrie for showing me how to make it okay in the end. I already miss you.