“The dark’s patience is infinite. Eventually, even stars burn out.” – Matthew Stover, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
These words by Matthew Stover have never had so much meaning until I heard the news that Carrie Fisher had passed on Tuesday afternoon. One of our brightest stars from the galaxy far, far away was snuffed out way too soon if you ask me. Yes, I know, people leave us every day, and many have passed just in this past year alone, but words cannot describe the emptiness that surrounded me the moment I knew Princess Leia’s candle went out.
The Buffalo News has probably said it best, “Millions of ‘Star Wars’ fans now know what a great disturbance in the Force feels like.” They aren’t kidding. There’s no way to prepare yourself for something like this, it’s just not possible, and honestly, I had hoped the day would never come. Selfishly, I just never imagined we’d lose her first from the Big Three. Not saying I want to lose any of them or anyone, but again, this was something I wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest of dreams or rather, nightmares. Her passing is beyond the comprehension of devastation. There are no words to describe what we’re all feeling right now. She meant so much to so many, and possibly, too much.
Recently I wrote a small contribution for Coffee with Kenobi on “Memories of Carrie.” I said,
Princess Leia was the first Princess I knew, and she was from another world, an entirely different galaxy from those I would come to know later on in my life. At the age of four, or soon-to-be four, she made a lasting impression on me. I wanted to be her. My earliest memories of that is the summer of 1978 at Sprague Brook Park Campgrounds. My brother and cousins were playing Star Wars in the woods and using sticks as lightsabers and blasters. Before I went off to join them, I remember asking, no pleading with my mother to put my hair in “Leia buns.” I couldn’t have been any happier. Running off to join them, to go play Star Wars, and looking like my heroine. Way before I knew what heroine meant. Only to be told by my brother and cousins that I couldn’t have a stick for a lightsaber because “girls” couldn’t be Jedi. Funny, I’ve often wondered how Carrie Fisher would’ve responded to that. Those of you reading this already know that answer. Most likely something like: “I don’t know where you get your delusions, laser brain.”
But that’s not all, no, she was so much more than the Princess, the sassy Senator, the feisty Rebel, and the fierce General. Every day, she was dedicated to being a positive Force for all who suffer from mental illness, and yet, so much more. She spoke publicly on her own personal illness and hoped to spread more awareness to others. Carrie was not just an incredible actress, she was also, an accomplished author that touched on the grittier topics of “real life,” such as drug addiction, alcoholism, and mental health. That said, Carrie had just published her latest literary project, ‘The Princess Diarist’ – a memoir based on diaries she kept as a young woman around the time she starred in the film Star Wars: A New Hope. Not to mention the many Charities she supported as an active patron i.e. Alzheimer’s Association, Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Midnight Mission, The Humanist Hub, and the International Bipolar Foundation. So many honest contributions to society and life itself. Seriously, with Carrie Fisher, what you see is what you get. She is sincere but downright hilarious at it. I mean, how many of us can say the same about ourselves?
Thankfully, I had the honor of meeting her back in May of 2007 at Star Wars Celebration in California. It was a brief and short conversation, but I’ll cherish it as long as I live. My life was at its lowest point, and I spent every cent I had to get there that year, but I don’t regret it. Even though it was rather selfish of me, I left my three kids behind and flew across the country. Star Wars was and still is my escape, my refuge, and I was in much need of a mental break due to my recent divorce. And Carrie, ever so gracious, made each of us feel like a long lost friend. Such an inquisitive soul. Like, for real! She literally had questions for me! Yes, truly, she immediately locked onto my shirt. She kept staring at it and then finally said, “Oh, I like that! What does it mean?” Referring to my Star Wars T-shirt that had the emblem on it from that years’ celebration, and the Aurebesh (Galactic basic) text on it read, “Geeks helping Geeks.” I explained to Carrie that I was part of this group of fans that helped each other out when it came to Star Wars collectibles. If someone saw something that another group member was looking for, we’d pick it up, and send it to that member. Carrie smiled and told me that she loved the concept and while I can’t remember her exact words, I do know she felt as if she had played a part in all of that. No better feeling in the whole galaxy than receiving a seal of approval from Princess Leia.
To us, the Star Wars fan, she will forever be our beloved Princess, but to the rest of the world, she was an angel that continuously spread her wings, giving hope to those that had none. For she ignited the Stars in the galaxy far, far away and will continue to do so, always. After all, Hope floats.
Thank you, Carrie Fisher, for everything. You laid the groundwork by breaking glass ceilings. Now, we must continue to push forward and finish what you started. By living life to its fullest and never giving up on our dreams – taking the next chance, and the next, until we win, or the chances are spent. I think Carrie said it best, “Stay afraid, but do it anyway.” We will, General, we will …
Becca Benjamin is a Medical Receptionist for a Retina Specialist, and the Editor-in-chief for The Cantina Cast, an innovative and thought-provoking Star Wars podcast and website, with a down-to-earth approach. She is also a host (with co-host Mark Sutter) on Tarkin’s Top Shelf, a literary Star Wars podcast and the personal author for Lucasfilm artist Steve Anderson. Becca is a monthly blog contributor for Coffee with Kenobi.