oh general, my general
Yesterday, when the news broke that Carrie Fisher had died after suffering a massive heart attack, I won’t lie, I cried for hours. My entire newsfeed on Facebook was filled with people posting pictures of her, talking about what she meant to them and with every post, my heart broke just a little more.
I was nine years old when I was introduced to Carrie Fisher, as Princess Leia in Star Wars. It’s an age where you are really just starting to come into your own personality, still leaning heavily on what your parents have modeled for you, but starting to strike out on your own. I was beginning to find my own music, my own books, my own movies.
I discovered many things through the window of Star Wars. I fell in love with Scifi, both books and movies. I discovered a truth that I will mostly buck the trend and fall for the “other” guy (while all my friends were all about Luke Skywalker, I was firmly in love with Han Solo). And I discovered that girls, and even princesses, did not need to be the damsel in distress in order to be of importance to a story.
I mean, she was the “damsel in distress” and Luke goes in to save her, but there’s no one who can argue that she didn’t participate in her own rescue. She was witty and sarcastic, she could hold her own with the big boys.
For a young woman with a burning desire to write my own stories, it formed a foundation for me that I still lean on today. I yearn to develop female characters that are the embodiment of those things.
But Carrie wasn’t just our princess. She was a full, complete woman outside of that role. As a woman, Carrie was also smart, witty and possessed of a caustic wit that was dry and self-deprecating and wonderful. She was open about who she was. She exposed things about herself that our society has taught us to keep in the dark and dared anyone to fault her for it. She was the voice of pride in who she was, in all her faults and she made it okay for the rest of us to embrace our faults, our quirks and to live genuinely within our skin.
With the coming of The Force Awakens, she gave us even more. The feisty princess had faded, and in her place was a commanding General. A woman who was not still important despite her age, but a woman who had grown more important in a role she chose for herself. It was a goal that she held to through loss and pain, and she fully embodied that.
Carrie Fisher was more than any movie princess could ever be. Carrie Fisher was a General that many of us would follow, not because we were commanded, but because we were lead.
Fare thee well, General. Lead on.