When I was five, I watched Star Wars for the first time, holding my older brother’s hand as we waited in line at the old Cine Capri. If you asked me who my favorite was, I would have told you Han Solo, the incorrigible rogue or his loyal sidekick Chewbacca. But when I heard the news that Carrie Fisher had passed away, a wave of devastating, profound loss swept over me and realized a truth.
No matter who my favorite was or is among the Star Wars family, Princess Leia had the most impact on me. When I was younger, I dressed up as her for Halloween. And as I grew older, knowing that there was a female role model out there made a difference for me, helped me realize that not only boys got to have the adventures. So did strong, heroic women.
As a character, she was ferocious. She talked back to the men who tried to control her. She fought as well as any of them, gun in hand and she was truly grace under pressure, getting the job done when others around her fell. She also displayed a subtle vulnerability which showed us it was okay to have a warmer side and care about the people in your life.
Carrie Fisher was a hero herself. She struggled with Bi-polar disorder and was far from perfect. But she was an advocate for women’s rights. She was an advocate for mental health. And she was never afraid to speak out for others. She was funny, fierce and brave even when she was afraid.
I know there are others who can speak about her more than I can. But I know what she meant to me and countless other girls of my generation and after. She made us brave like her. She made us fierce like her. She was our princess who showed us it was okay to be the hero of our own stories and to always speak out. There will never be another like her. I mourn her, both as my Princess Leia and as herself, the warm, funny comedienne and writer. We will must now find our own hero within, become the Princesses of our own stories. Go with the Force, Carrie Fisher.
I found out tonight that we also lost Debbie Reynolds who was also a hero to me. Unshakeable Molly Brown is no more and my heart hurts for our losses. Women, we must take their examples and learn from them. Be the women they were. They can never be replaced but we can honor their memories.