Dear Carrie Fisher: Thank You For Everything

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Dear Carrie Fisher,

This isn’t an easy letter / post to write. When I learned that you had left us for whatever is after this life, I broke down into tears and sobs. Losing you felt so personal, even though we had never met. In a way, losing you is personal. I first saw Star Wars when I was a little kid. My parents gave me a set of the original trilogy on VHS, which I watched over and over and over. When I had to stay home from school because of severe asthma attacks, I watched Star Wars. When I needed a friend or an escape from the world, I watched Star Wars. So, in a very real way, you were big part of my life.

You were one of my heroes. I learned so many things from you. When you stood up to Darth Vader, led the Rebel Alliance against the Empire, and stood your ground on Endor, I learned about the power of sacrifice and the value of standing up for what you believe in. Your strength and resilience in adverse conditions reminded me that heroes can be more than fists and guns. They are leaders with strong values — a commitment to justice, honor, friendship, and even love. When you met the Ewoks, you didn’t just stand up for the seemingly powerless, you lifted them up. You loved them. You valued them as people. And you loved your friends and respected their decisions. You were in so many ways a role model on film — one of the first feminist heroes of my childhood. I will always be a fan of Star Wars, and Leia will be one of my heroes until the day I leave this world.

You weren’t just there as a character in a movie, though. The qualities of Leia were so much a part of the person you were in real life; one might hazard to guess that Leia was a reflection of you. Your willingness to discuss mental illness and reject the absurdities of the age-obsessed film industry made you seem so much like a Leia of the real world. No blasters. No telling off half-machine Sith Lords. Strength in honesty, in calling things for what they are, of being unabashedly you. You shared your life with us, including your lovely companion, Gary, and the lessons we learned from it were endless. You weren’t perfect, you knew it, and you could accept that. Acceptance is one of the hardest things to do.

The impact of these things on my life, from childhood to now, are impossible to quantify. Like many people, I don’t think I would be who I am today if you hadn’t been, well, you — on film and in real life. I hope that those of us you impacted will be able to keep your legacy alive. You have always been a beacon of hope. The world we’re about to inherit seems so bleak, so devoid of hope. It seems rather poignant that your most famous film character’s last word to us in 2016 was “hope.” More than ever, we need “hope.” I think we can find it and hold on to it.

I will miss you so much. Thank you for everything:  every moment of joy, every life lesson, every breath of honesty, every moment of beauty and hope.

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With love,

Shaun

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and fantasy.

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