Carrie has left us. In a year so full of celebrity death, this one seems to hurt far more than the rest, and I've been trying to figure out why that is. Largely I'm sure it is because for many of us she, as Princess Leia, has been a part of our lives from as far back as we even have memories. I can recall seeing Return of the Jedi in the movie theater and the moment she took that mask off to reveal herself to Han Solo after she had freed him from the carbonite, and thinking, "Cool, Leia saved him!" Movies and books are full of princesses but nobody else defined a princess quite the way Carrie did.
It's not just that she was Leia, though. In her openness with her struggles with mental illness and addiction, as a woman in Hollywood (or in life in general), what it was like to grow up as the child of two giant celebrities, she became our friend. She never hid from personal questions, she never pretended that she was not someone who had to deal with a lot of struggles in life. She made a lot of us feel much better in knowing, "Hey, she's like the rest of us. And it's ok to fall down sometimes and struggle, and we can still come back and be strong and funny and smart." Someone recently said to me she is like the most unlikely "everywoman." And I think that's true. How does a woman who is born into Hollywood royalty relate so much to the rest of us normal people? Yet she does. You feel as though you could walk up to her and have a normal conversation and she would actually care to hear what you had to say. I can't say I feel that way about any other celebrities.
She never took herself seriously. As she said, "If my life wasn't funny it would just be true and that' is unacceptable." I think we could all learn a lot from those words. I've read all of her books, and when you think about even a fraction of the things she has been through you can hardly imagine dealing with it, and yet she always picked herself up and kept on going. Her wit was practically beyond human capability, and her humor will be sorely missed. For anyone who has only seen her as Leia I would highly encourage you to read anything she has written, as she is one of the funniest people I've ever come across. She brought us into her life, she made it okay for people to admit they were suffering from mental illness. She gave us all permission to laugh at our problems and say, "You can't beat me, because tomorrow I'm going to wake up and just start making jokes about you."
Days before her death she was posting to Twitter articles about how she was too old to play the CGI version of her own likeness, and again pointed out how women are not allowed to age. I'm glad that only a month ago we got a few more talk show visits from her so we could see her crack just a few more jokes before she had to leave us. She was so like Princess Leia, and I can understand why she would be proud that that was her biggest legacy. I'm not sure how any of us are going to be able to get through Episode VIII. Even though I can't think of a more fitting final role.
My regret is that I never got a chance to meet her. Not that I was expecting us to hang out and go to dinner or something, but even fifteen seconds for a photo op would've been nice. I was fortunate enough to have seen her perform Wishful Drinking twice, and it was equally hilarious both times.
This one really, really hurts. It's losing a little piece of our childhoods, but also the adult who could always trust her to make a wonderfully witty comment to put things in perspective. It hurts even more because she was taken from us far too soon. At only sixty she had a lot more years left of making us laugh. We'll get back to that eventually, with all she has left us with, but first we'll have to get past her making us cry.
Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher. Princess Leia. The world will be a little worse off without your wit and humor to remind us that nothing can get to us if we remember to laugh at it.