By nearly all accounts, 2016 has been an unmitigated disaster. From unfortunate deaths of celebrities to the wholesale collapse of sanity in the election Aside: Seriously?! If you thought this would be without bias, you clearly haven’t been reading this blog for long. the arbitrary construct we know as the year 2016 has been without a doubt one of the most miserable in recent memory. And yet, I was able to weather it all with the help of family, friends, and a healthy monthly dose of Big Pharma. Mostly, I wasn’t even phased by 2016. I didn’t even really begin to be affected beyond brief twinges of mourning until the election and then it sort of went downhill. But, today…today it hit home. Just days before the end of our trip around the sun, a princess died.
Not any princess mind you. Our princess. The galaxy’s princess. Princess Leia. Sure, she was really Carrie Fisher. She was, for some, Meg Ryan’s best friend and Tom Hanks’ husband. She was even a crazed jilted lover laying down gunfire on Jake and Elwood. But for me and my generation, she was an ersatz ambassador desperately trying to reach Obi-Wan, her only hope, in an effort to save the galaxy from the evil Empire and Darth Vader. She was a girl who brooked no nonsense from anyone, certainly not a naive farm boy from a backwater planet or a huckster scoundrel whose love of money would not stand in her way. If she had to save her own ass, so be it. She was embodied feminism in a world that was desperate for a female who didn’t need a man to rescue her. Princess Leia was her own hero.
Don’t get me wrong. I mourned the death of Alan Rickman, Prince, and even Louisville’s own Muhammad Ali. Jose Fernandez and Anton Yelchin, both gone just as they were beginning their greatness. The prolific Leonard Cohen and the reclusive Harper Lee. Fidel Castro, who some thought would never die, and John Glenn, whose heroism made us feel that death could be overcome. But Carrie Fisher is the final straw because a little piece of my childhood died today. Her memory, mostly encased in 40 year old plastic in a 3 3/4″ likeness, will live on because an entire generation watched the princess in white defeat the evil in black.
The title of this post, of course, refers to her request that her obituary list her cause of death as having “drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra” due to a discussion with George Lucas about undergarments in space. I saw her once at a women’s conference. I was one of about 3 men in the room at the time, all fanboys naturally. She was, as she was known in later years, completely uninhibited and willing to talk about anything. She answered questions without giving one single fuck about anything anyone might have to say in rebuttal. I was able to get her autograph on a photo from the conference program, standing a table’s width away from galactic royalty, and aside from Peter Mayhew’s autograph, the only one I’ve ever received.
My wife asked me earlier if I was okay, and on the whole I’m fine. I didn’t know her personally, of course. I’m sure that her daughter, Billie, and her dog, Gary, and a host of people around her who knew her personally are devastated as they’ve lost a light in their lives. Truth be told, I didn’t even really start this post with the intent of making it solely about Carrie Fisher. It just speaks to how large a part of my life that Star Wars was, is, and continues to be.
I’m happy to report that my own family is alive and well. My parents have both lived to nearly 70 at this point and are happily sharing in the lives of their grandchildren. I could do with a little less debt and a little more money, but who couldn’t?! I know that in the grand scheme of things, a lot could be worse. But when something has been a part of your entire life, it’s hard not to reflect on the loss of it.
So, as we wave farewell to 2016 and begin yet another trip around the solar system, I want to say, May the Force be with you!