By Mark A. Leon
Just a few minutes after I heard the devastating news of the passing of Carrie Fisher, I began a long drive from Raleigh back home. On Interstate 540, I saw a sign that said New Hope Road. I smiled. Often, we are given signs, some of them obvious, while others subtle, that remind us that there is good in a moment of tragedy.
In the final scene of the latest Star Wars Release ‘Rogue One’ we are blessed with a ghostly image of a young Princess Leia. Perhaps foreshadowing that she would soon be looking down upon us from up above and we would want to remember her in the fondest way possible with her whole life in front of her.
At 21, Carrie Fisher was a global icon as popular as Muhammad Ali, Rocky Balboa and Elvis Presley. Yet, she maintained the added burden of being a role model to young girls and women around the world. As am empowered woman, fulfilling every girl’s childhood dream of being a princess, she embodied every little girl’s wish. Powerful, confident, beautiful and caring. Her smile, hidden vulnerability and strength made her a figurehead for the modern woman. From figurine to posters, hair styles to sexuality, Leia ruled the galaxy the way she wanted to.
Yet, beneath the character, Carrie Fisher battled her own demons, including bipolar and depression attributes. Like her character of Leia, she fought hard and overcame extreme adversity. As a writer, actress and advocate, she shared her story and her message over the years.
As the sun set on the passing of another iconic celebrity, millions of us were transported back to our childhood, like a time machine on a mission. Back to our figurines, cards, calendars, light sabers and journals.
While listening to the radio on my drive, callers would share their stories about the impact Carrie Fisher and Star Wars had and the message was always the same; fondness and family.
Her influence on her fans and women around the world cannot be measured. For almost 40 years, Princess then General Leia continued to shine on the big screen. In between, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher tried to create a life of normalcy, but as you can read in ‘Postcards from the Edge’, it wasn’t always easy. She always showed up with a smile and a vision of hope.
Carrie Fisher will be desperately missed, but always remembered every time we hear John Williams anthem.
As my brother said so eloquently last evening, “Star Wars was my childhood”. As part of that ensemble, Carrie Fisher will be remembered, by most of us, as a key part of our lives during a time of innocence and imagination.