I’ve been wanting to write something on Carrie Fisher since she passed away, but I couldn’t get the words out to do it, so I kept putting it off. But here it is, the anniversary of her death, and I decided it’s time to say something.
I know from my former journalism career that people are obsessed with celebrities. What they wear, what they eat, what they name their kids, their favorite everything. Thanks to the explosion of social media, this has been blown up to an epic proportion.
I first saw Postcards From the Edge when I was in high school, and I only watched it because Shirley MacLaine was in it, and I love her, thanks to her kick ass performance in Steel Magnolias. After I saw the movie I did some research and found out it was a “semi autobiographical” movie based on that woman who played Leia in Star Wars. That’s all I knew her as at that time – Leia. Nothing more, nothing less.
So I Googled her.
And that Googling got me a hero. She was tough. She was vulnerable. She came from a remarkably twisted family tree. Basically, she and I were the same person.
I watched all the Star Wars movies because she was in it. I ended up loving them, but she’s the reason I even watched them in the first place. Her movies are one thing, but her books are quite another.
She wrote both memoirs and novels, the novels mostly being memoirs with a little bit of fiction thrown in to qualify them as “novels”. Then I read one of her personal mottos.
“If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.” – Carrie Fisher
I took that motto on as my own, and started writing about my own life. Her bravery for me to spill my life onto the page. Some of it for public consumption, some of it for just me.
She taught me how to make my life funny, even when it wasn’t funny in the least. She gave me the courage to write about my medical induced PTSD and seek treatment for it. Same thing when it came to my clinical depression I had after a stretch of extremely bad health I doubted I would survive.
She made me realize that writing about my life isn’t tortuous – it’s freeing.
When she died, I was crushed. So crushed. Ugly crushed. For a few reasons, mainly that I never got the chance to tell her she saved my mental health, rerouted my career and made me realize it’s perfectly okay not to be okay.
She died when she was 60 years old, after having a massive heart attack on a plane going to California from London. Her heart was damaged by the copious amounts of drugs she had ingested over the years, and the toxicology report that came out months later did confirm that she did have drugs in her system. Her family faced it head on, acknowledging her ongoing mental health and drug battles, and they have taken up the reins in both keeping Carrie’s memories alive, along with the work she did when it came to being an advocate when it came to mental health and drug dependency.
“If my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true, and that is completely unacceptable. Let’s say something happens and from a certain slant, maybe it’s tragic and even a little bit shocking. And then time passes and you go to the funny slant and now that very same thing can no longer do you any harm.” ~ Carrie Fisher
She made a difference in more lives than she could ever imagine. Her house was outrageously decorated. She swore worse than I do. (Which, for the record, is A LOT.)
She reminds me, even a year after her untimely demise, that it’s okay to be me.