Leia, a Princess for the rest of us

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

I was 12 when the original Star Wars hit the theater for the first time. It was the summer I had my first open heart surgery. My mom took me to see the movie to get my mind off of all the things that were bothering me.

I was short, dark haired and dark eyed. Not the desired look for a California teen. It was bad enough I wasn’t born blond and blue eyed, but now the doctors told me I would have a scar running between my small breast. That awkward teen age, you know the one between puberty and young adulthood, is hard enough on all us, but imagine knowing you’d be marked for life with a scar right in the place guys usually look first. Needless to say, I thought my social life was over before it even started.

But then, in that dark movie theater a girl lit up the place. She was short, dark haired, dark eyed, and had a round face, just like me! Lo and behold, a Princess, unlike any I had seen before was front and center, holding her own while also impressing the guys. This was no ordinary princess; she was no damsel in distress!

That summer, as I physically healed as only children can do, my friends and I saw Star Wars 12 times. It was 1977 in a small town with little to do, plus it was Star Wars! Theaters across the nation kept the movie playing all summer. It was the first real blockbuster and first movie to have such a long run. It was the summer of magic for me.

All the guys talked about wanting Princess Leia and all the girls talked about wanting to be Princess Leia. For the first time I felt lucky to be a short dark haired girl. It was easy for me to dress up as Leia that next Halloween to the dismay of all of my tall blond friends. Finally, we short girls had someone we could look up to, someone who looked and acted like us. We had our own Princess and this one kicked ass!

That was my introduction to Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher. I’ve watched her over the years. I applauded her efforts to overcome her demons and rejoiced as she fought back against those who wanted to tear her down for daring to age. I admired her spirit and courage.

I just happened to see Rouge One on Monday, and while I did not enjoy the movie as much as I had hoped, I did enjoy seeing Princess Leia, the young Leia one more time. For a moment I was thrust back to my childhood and remembered all that she had done for me. But just as quickly as my joy returned it was shattered with the news of her passing. A heart attack? At 60? That hits way to close to home. I am still stunned but thankful that she may have never known what happened. I can only hope she is finally and totally at peace. I hope the Force is with her.

It turns out we have one more thing in common. Fisher enjoyed Shakespeare. Here she is reading Sonnet 29. Coincidentally, this was the first sonnet I read out loud in my intro to Shakespeare class. We had to pick one, tear it apart line by line and then read after we felt comfortable with its contents. How uncanny this is the one she chose too.