Why I Mourn…
She gave me hope and Rebellions are built on hope…
Why I mourn Carrie Fisher:
It’s always sad when a celebrity dies, just as it is always sad when someone in our personal life dies. I never hung out with Carrie Fisher. We never talked over coffee or chatted on the phone or anything else I do with my female friends. I never met her in person (though I always kinda sorta hoped I would). So why do I care if someone I never really KNEW died? Why do I feel a similar sense of loss as when an actual friend or family member has passed away? It goes back to when I was six years old.
I was in first grade and attending Catholic school. My whole class did well on some test and our reward was going over to the rectory to watch a movie. Someone brought in A New Hope (or just Star Wars at the time) which every other kid in my class apparently already saw. I sat transfixed in front of the television, shushing those close to me so I could hear. I knew right then and there that something special in my life had just happened, but didn’t exactly know what. I went home that day and told my mother I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. A Jedi. Specifically, I wanted to be a Princess Jedi. Hey, I was six. I wanted to be a princess, but I wanted to be one with cool hair who could run and shoot and snark just like the boys. My mother explained to me that they weren’t real, that they were people paid to pretend to be those things. She explained filmmaking to me and the magic of movies. I looked her in the eye and said that fine, I’d be a filmmaker and actor and I would someday play a princess Jedi in a Star Wars movie. That right there has lasted through my entire life, my love of movies and making them, both as an actor and a writer/director/producer. On filming days, I wake up with this sense of wonder and absolute glee at being able to take things from real life to a screen and that has never wavered or faded.
Over the years I read about Carrie’s struggles. I’ve seen the heartache and pain that such illnesses cause. I’ve also seen addiction firsthand with people I’ve been close to, some of whom turned to alcohol and hard substances to self medicate for issues they’ve had. I’ve been in the midst of the storms and I’ve been the one to clean up the debris after the storms have passed. But I never let it pull me down into the waves because hey, if Carrie Fisher can deal with living those issues and still be an amazing storyteller, writer and filmmaker, I know it’s possible and I should never give up. So I didn’t. She gave me hope and Rebellions are built on hope.
There aren’t many celebrities that I actively grieve for upon their death. Sure, icons and individuals who were influential in my life are mourned as a loss, but I don’t often actively grieve aside from a general sense of loss and sadness. Carrie Fisher, though? I grieve for her and I grieve hard.
I knew she wouldn’t live forever. Nobody abuses their body to the level she did for the length of time she did without lasting effects and in some ways it’s probably surprising she lasted as long as she did. Acknowledging that you were in an abusive relationship with yourself and drugs and alcohol does not undo the damage to your organs. As much as I applaud her being vocal and blunt about her addictions and struggles, it also made people realize that she had hurt herself and it might lead to an earlier death than expected otherwise.
And so, I am sad. I am sad that a personal idol has been lost to me. I am sad that the world lost a great entertainer in many mediums. I am sad that her family has to go through this at this time of year. I am sad that her daughter is right now feeling what I felt last year when I lost my own mother.
Also, I am sad that as I get older, the magic of my childhood hasn’t fully disappeared, but the magicians are starting to.
So that is why I mourn Carrie Fisher.