It’s been almost a month since you went to be with the Force. It all still hurts and it all still doesn’t feel real. I’m grieving for your Billie. I’m so sorry that she lost you so soon.
I’ve been reading everything that I can get my hands on about you. And I’m learning so much. So much that I had no idea about. So much that reminds me of myself. It’s all made me so thankful to have been in this world at the same time as you, even for just a little while. And I think that’s what I’m the most sad about; that I never got the chance to thank you for how important you have been (and are) to me.
The first “real” movie that I ever watched was Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope. It was a really big deal and I was very excited. I was a loud, vivacious, “bossy” five year old, and it’s very difficult for me to articulate my wide-eyed wonder at the authoritative, beautiful, and brave Princess of Alderaan, as she was first in frame. My heart was pounding when she boldly defied the (arguably) most terrifying villain in all of cinematic history without batting so much as an eyelash. I knew then at that very moment that I wanted to be Princess Leia when I grew up. I wanted to be you. I’m not sure how I could ever explain it, but I know that so much of you was in her. You gave her life, and courage, and feeling. You took a damsel in distress and turned her into a hero. And I am so so thankful.
As I got older, I never stopped watching Star Wars. I still haven’t stopped. A New Hope is the story I frequently fall asleep to. And I fall more in love with every viewing. The older I got, the more I realized just how brave and absolutely unprecedented you were in science fiction cinema. Leia watched her planet disappear from the universe right in front of her eyes, despite giving Vader and Tarkin what they wanted. She was tortured and held prisoner, until Luke Skywalker and Han Solo donned those Stormtrooper uniforms and made a total mess of things. Leia hit the ground running, toward the hope of destroying the Empire and Vader, carrying the grief of the erasure of her people and home. She never lost sight of the goal. She comforted Luke after the loss of Obi-Wan. Leia was tough and severe and proud and bossy and soft and compassionate and so so so loving. An unimaginably powerful conduit of the Force, despite Luke being the one on the Hero’s Journey. She’s a politician. An activist. A negotiator. A Skywalker. And of the House Organa. Leia is witty and ferociously loyal, and unafraid to bare her teeth. She’s the legacy of Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala. A memory of a Republic lost… And the Hope for it’s rebuilding. It’s not just Luke who is “A New Hope”… Leia is the other half.
In The Empire Strikes Back, you showed me that you don’t have to give up any of your freedom or independence or dignity when you fall in love. That love can be freedom. That love is courageous and sacrifice. That love is worth fighting for. That it’s what connects us all. Leia allowed herself to be vulnerable, trusting Han not to hurt her. She had lost so much. It was a war. She couldn’t have spent any less than every second of the day thinking about the possibility, probability even, that she might lose Luke, or Han… Her family. And she kept on being her badass self anyway. She was a leader. She saved Luke after his confrontation with Vader. That was you. I know that was you, because it’s what you did in real life. You looked your illness and addiction in their ugly, horrible faces, and snarled and gnashed your teeth right back at them. You screamed and you clawed and you fought… and you won. And it was a battle that you took up every day. I couldn’t be more thankful for how openly you shared your fight with all of us. You are one of the reasons I know that I can keep fighting this fight. To me, you’ll always be royalty; and I’m proud to follow your lead.
In Return of the Jedi, you only continued to show me how to be the best version of myself. Leia put together a plan, and went into Jabba’s palace herself, to get Han back. She didn’t give up on him, because she knew he could be saved. I’m so glad that you never gave up; on us, or yourself. And when she was captured and made to be a slave, chains and all, it didn’t break her. You laughed in the face of the objectification of Leia, and demanded that you be the one to kill Jabba, with the chains of her bondage, no less. You made that demand, and it showed us that you would not be held captive by the standards that the world held you to. And you continued that even up until just before you left, being unapologetically yourself and flipping off anyone who tried to stand in your way. You allowed Leia to take control of her fate, and reminded audiences that she is a violent tempest contained in a Princess’ body. I have never forgotten that. Leia moved on in the film to embrace her destiny as both the heir of Alderaan, and the heir of the Jedi. She stared into the void that was space and was not afraid. Except that she was, and she did the thing anyway. That’s true bravery; being terrified, but doing the thing anyway. That’s how you lived your life, and it’s how I want to live mine. She loved Luke and Han tenaciously. She never did anything by halves.
As a write this, The Force Awakens is playing in the background on my tv. When I first saw the film, I burst into tears when you first stepped into frame. You were every bit the Princess you were many years ago, but now you’d added General to your accolades. Just as beautiful. Just as strong. Just as loving and kind and intelligent and unbreakable. My Princess. The very same Carrie, but also different. Grown. Matured. Battleworn. A grieving mother. A grieving wife. Still ferociously standing against oppression and evil. Working to destroy the exploitation of innocents. But your light had not dimmed one bit. Still absolutely dazzling. I don’t think it ever will. It will just be sparkling from the skies, now. My heart was so full, that day.
You did exactly what you set out to do. You took your broken heart and made it into art. Your fingerprints are on so many of Hollywood’s masterpieces. There is not a piece of art you’ve touched that was not bettered by your contributions. There is not a person’s heart that you’ve touched that was not bettered by your bravery and candor and ability to laugh about, and in spite of your struggles. I didn’t ever really consider a world where I would have to remember you, instead of being able to hear about your adventures with your mum, and your girl. I didn’t ever really consider that there would be an empty space when you left. But there is. And we miss you. We miss you so very dearly. We miss your jokes, and your fascinating take on your life. We’ll miss your writing, and your tweets. We’ll miss Leia. But you were also so much more, just like she is. You were a blinding star inside of a human being. You are so much more than the parts you played. You made a difference. You will continue to make a difference. You’ll live forever because of that.
I miss you. And I love you I love you I love you. I know you’ve found peace. Enjoy your well deserved rest, your Highness. And thank you for giving me hope that I can find peace as well.
“Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force”
A Loud, Vivacious, Bossy 20something who loves you