Why Carrie Fisher’s Hit Me the Hardest Of All The Celebrity Deaths of 2016

When I started writing this I had been awake for just on an hour. I wanted to write a few words about the death of Carrie Fisher. Of that hour, I had spent a good portion in tears. I was downstairs when my wife called out to me to ask if I could make her a coffee and at the time I was in the process of making my own.

As I walked upstairs with my “Number 1 Dad” coffee mug with Darth Vader’s helmet taking the place of the letter A in dad, I walked into our bedroom, sat my wife’s coffee down on her bedside table, and then with tears rolling down my eyes, and struggling to speak I told her.

“Carrie Fisher is dead…”

She started crying too.

“I don’t know why, out of all the celebrity deaths this year, this one has hit me the hardest.”

“It’s probably because she reminds you of your mum.”

It’s true, partly, but it’s also more than that…

I expect if you’re reading this, you may be a Star Wars fans, and I guess that you’ve already seen Rogue One. But if not, I’m about to announce a not so secret spoiler.

A few times during that movie I teared up a little. But it wasn’t until the last scene where we see Princess Leia tell us that getting the plans to the Death Star means that we have hope that I’m pretty sure someone started cutting up onions right there in the cinema. For me, Rogue One has been the most emotional of all the Star Wars movies, and probably the most important release since Return of the Jedi.

Having said that, The Force Awakens got me wiping away more than a few tears. When I saw General Leia Organa on the big screen for the first time, it made me happy, proud, excited and emotional.

The real hero of Star Wars.
The real hero of Star Wars.

I woke up this morning in our eldest son’s bed. He slept over his best mate’s house last night to celebrate his mate’s birthday, and as it’s the holidays, and as I just signed up to Netflix I’ve been catching up with some binge watching that everyone else has been doing for months. As a result, so that I didn’t disturb my wife, I decided to crash in another room. With my iPad beside me I turned it on with a minute of waking and then read the news about Carrie.

Yesterday we bought new quilt covers for both of the boys. A New Order Stormtrooper set for the eldest son, and Darth Vader for the youngest. I put that on their beds yesterday, and I broke in the eldest son’s quilt cover last night having slept in his bed. And then as I looked around his room I noticed the Star Wars tissue box with Princess Leia on one of the ends. Next to the is my son’s Star Wars drinking bottle. Boxes of Star Wars Lego sprawled over his bedroom floor. Star Wars stickers adorn his chest of drawers. And a Star Wars multiplication table poster sits at the foot of his bed.

I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan. That is, my life is not solely dedicated to that galaxy far, far away. But I love it.

Star Wars is a connection to my youth. Star Wars is a reminder when my life a easier. Star Wars is a throw back to when I cared more about a fake war full of mock battles rather than the horrors that we hear on the news almost every single day.

And yes, Star Wars reminds me of my mother.

Away from the Star Wars Universe, Ms Fisher was so much more than “just the princess” although that character was more than just a princess. I’m not embarrassed to say that one of her other movies is in my top ten all time favourite movies; When Harry Met Sally.

My favourite rom com, When Harry Met Sally
My favourite rom com, When Harry Met Sally

I love that movie. And whilst the movie obviously focuses on the two main stars, Carrie’s role in the movie is great. I can remember the first time I saw it. I’ll admit that I had type cast Carrie as the princess and wouldn’t have wanted her to be anything else but that, but I was won over by her as more that just that role. Coincidentally, whilst the movie is set circa 1988/89, the movie starts with the main two characters meeting in 1977 which is the year Star Wars was first released. I wonder if Harry and Sally saw that. I bet they did.

Carrie Fisher reminds me of my mum.

Although she didn’t appear in the movie, Carrie authored the novel Postcards from the Edge. As my mother loved to read, it was no surprise to find her reading that book. I can remember seeing Carrie Fisher’s name on the front cover and asking my mum if it was “the” Carrie Fisher. And when my mum went to see the movie at the cinema her excitement in going was not unlike my excitement at seeing the next instalment of the Star Wars saga.

Carrie Fisher seemed like a level headed, strong willed person, yet one that was vulnerable and introspective. That was my mum.

Rogue One, like Carrie Fisher’s death were inevitably going to bring tears to my eyes as the former brought me back to the late Seventies and early Eighties which were some of the best year of my life, whilst the latter felt like it was ripping all of that away from me.

I’ll admit that a part of me felt a little selfish. Here we are still a year out from the next chapter in the continuing Star Wars saga, the yet unnamed Episode VIII, and we know that General Leia Organa is going to be in the movie. What we don’t know is what the future held for the Character Formerly Known as Princess. Maybe Episode VIII director Rian Johnson will be battling to change the ending and have her killed off.

Maybe it will come down to Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow to fix it along with his writing partner Derek Connolly, and assisted by Rian Johnson if he can’t make the changes to VIII.

One thing that I do know is this. She was the first heroic female character that young boys like me could look up to. Sure she was a princess, but she did as much rescuing of others as she was needing to be rescued herself. And because we often think of the actor as being a huge chunk of the character, by that connection, we know that Carrie Fisher was more than just the daughter of a Hollywood super couple; she was her own person who battled many demons and came out the other side swinging so many times.

But not this time. Just like her on screen (former) husband’s death in The Force Awakens, eventually even the greatest of heroes is proved to be mortal. And that’s why we admired them so much more.

Wherever she is now, let’s hope that she is one with the Force.

Surely Leia will become a Force ghost now.
Surely Leia will become a Force ghost now.

One thought on “Why Carrie Fisher’s Hit Me the Hardest Of All The Celebrity Deaths of 2016

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