When I learned that Carrie Fisher had died, I was at work so I couldn’t cry. There was no time for tears, but my heart wasn’t in my job because I now knew that the amazing woman who played Princess / Senator / General Leia Organa was gone.
It’s so strange, surreal, even, because only a few days ago my friends and I watched the Star Wars Holiday Special and Episode IV: A New Hope. One of them mentioned that Carrie Fisher was in the hospital after having a heart attack on a plane. I remember thinking, “Oh man, I hope she gets better soon,” but I don’t any of us had any doubt that she would recover and go on being her feisty, witty self.
But she didn’t. (And as if that tragedy wasn’t enough, her mother followed suit the next day.) Part of me still doesn’t believe it. Or rather, doesn’t want to believe it.
I confess that I’m not familiar with much of Carrie Fisher’s work outside of Star Wars. I always liked her portrayal of Leia, and as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate her combination of sass and steely-eyed determination even more. The two books of hers that I’ve read so far, Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic, were poignant and hysterical. (I think they may have also been the first actor memoirs I ever read, the first time I saw the life of the actor behind such an iconic part of my childhood.) Her commercial “Coping with Humans: A Robot Support Group” made me laugh and I was absolutely thrilled to see her again in her titular role in The Force Awakens. Now I don’t know what will happen to that story. If the huge outpouring of tributes from friends, family, and fans alike is any indication, she touched more lives in more ways than I can possibly imagine.
I have loved Star Wars since I was seven years old. I love all the characters and their interactions. I gobbled up all the Expanded Universe media I could find and pretended to be a Jedi. There was even a very long, involved piece of fan fiction involving a Grey Jedi named Tenko who was raised on Tatooine by a race of Force-sensitive velociraptors called Kesharr. At one point in this long-winded story, the Kesharr adopted Luke and Leia into their tribe and gave them new names. Luke became “Skybrother” and Leia was “Starsister.” She was always present in these stories that I created, always respected and admired, but Luke tended to get the spotlight. That’s where the action was, after all.
And yet when we got our first real computer (with dial-up internet) and Wal-Mart Connect prompted me to create a username… I chose to call myself “Starsister12.” Because who better to navigate the danger and diplomacy of the world wide web than the woman who was a princess, a senator, a general, and a space mom?
We miss you, Carrie. May the Force be with you. Always.