Carrie Fisher was a childhood hero of mine. Long before I would learn about her tumultuous personal life, her battles with drug addiction and her brave struggle with mental illness, I was starstruck for Princess Leia, who was the first real female superhero, in my book. Watching her light it up on the big screen, keeping pace with the tough guys while remaining uniquely and indisputably feminine was a singular privilege of my adolescent years, when the original Star Wars trilogy was re-released in theaters for a second generation of fans to fall in love with a galaxy far, far away.
I remember feeling astonished after walking out of “A New Hope” for the first time, that a movie could affect me so deeply, or that characters could seem so real. It feels silly admitting this now as a 34 year old mother of four, but when I was 13 years old, I think I really believed in that alternate galaxy, and I know for sure that I deeply and personally identified with those characters.
In some ways, Princess Leia gave my burgeoning adolescent self permission to exist, conferred a sort of legitimacy to my personality: an opinionated, strong-willed and even, at times, aggressive young woman, but still very much feminine.
Princess Leia blasted – literally, in some cases – through a dozen stereotypes every time she opened her mouth to drop a pithy one liner or issue a withering command. And I just couldn’t get enough.
I think I’ve probably dressed as Princess Leia for half a dozen Halloween parties over the years, and little Evie has gone as her twice, now, this most recent year at her own insistence after a mic-dropping rejection of the Belle costume I’d procured for her at Costco. I’m proud to be raising another little connoisseur of good science fiction, and I’ll keep twisting her cinnabuns up for as many Octobers as she’ll let me.
So, although Carrie Fisher was very much a complicated, unique, troubled and joyful human being who lived a full and complex life outside that small sliver of years spent portraying and reprising the Princess on the big screen, it is for her enduring and memorable role in white that I remember her and mourn her this week. I joked to my mom that I felt like a part of my childhood died yesterday. But I wasn’t completely joking.
Carrie, you will be missed. Thank you for your giftedness, for your talented portrayal of a beloved character, and for your honesty surrounding the complex and fraught topic of mental illness. I pray that you may know peace in the next life, a peace that eluded you at times in this one.
May the Lord, who is rich in mercy, be generous with His mercy in turn.