When I woke up to the news of Princess Leia’s passing, frankly, I was surprised by how much I actually cared. Thanks to my timezone, Facebook was already inundated by my friends jumping on the trending train — blaming 2016 for the loss of another beloved celebrity.
2016 had nothing to do with it.
My immediate gut reaction was two-fold. I felt sadness for the loss of a wonderful, iconic character and anger at the knowledge her death was probably due to drugs, based upon her own honesty about her substance abuse history, specifically cocaine — well known for it’s longterm damaging impact on the heart. It was an addiction “strike three” for the year, considering previous “2016 victims”, George Michael and Prince. But I have to be honest, when they passed away my thoughts were just an unemotional, “Yup, drugs again.”
Princess Leia was another thing entirely.
I loved Star Wars when I was seventeen and even stood in one of those historical wrap-around-the-theater-blocks-long lines to see it. That was light-years before I would have my own Star Wars loving family and inconceivable to me I would some day almost lose a daughter to drugs.
Fast forward almost forty years and I know more than a little bit about the Darth Vader kind of evil addiction embodies. I also know more than I ever dreamed about battling the forces of evil with nothing but a mother’s prayers. I am incredibly blessed, grateful and extremely lucky she recovered. I am equally lucky that I did, too.
Star Wars and Disney (even before the two were linked) were just a few of the happy distractions that helped my family get through the years of living with the cloud of addiction hanging over us. Of waking up each day and wondering if the phone would ring with the news that my child was gone.
And as a result, after reading some of her writing, I felt an unexpected connection with Carrie Fisher. She was talented, brilliant and very funny. She was able to make me laugh about something that had caused great pain. I liked the idea that underneath Princess Leia’s exterior was a real person who was flawed; and not afraid to joke about it. I loved when she said, “If my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true and that’s unacceptable.” She also said, “I heard someone say once that many of us only seem able to find heaven by backing away from hell. And while the place that I’ve arrived at in my life may not precisely be everyone’s idea of heavenly, I could swear sometimes — I hear angels sing.”
I’m guessing she could have had another twenty five years to amaze us with her talent and humor. Sadly, that won’t be the case. Addiction doesn’t discriminate and isn’t going away. Princesses and common folk alike remain at risk.
And that really makes me mad.
Lover of reading, writing, sparkly things and whatever purrs, barks or flies. Former helicopter mom, co-dependent and enabler, I am addicted to walking, my family and my iWatch. Teacher by day and writer by night, I am clearly the one learning the most. Keeping it up until I get it right. Choosing joy one day at a time and sharing my journey so others can see why it might not be found if we don’t look for it. Thanks for stopping by!