Friday, December 30, 2016

Pondering a Princess General

A few years back, I was playing Cranium with family, including my sister in law. I was supposed to act out "Princess Leia" without speaking, so I grabbed two boxes of cards from the board and held them to the sides of my head like her iconic Star Wars twin bun hairstyle. It was recognized immediately by my sister in law and we still laugh about it now, years later—she knew the character with a simple pantomime. This is how much a part of our culture Carrie Fisher is. Was. Sigh.

I've been thinking a lot about Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds this week. It's hit me harder than I ever imagined it will. Is it the mother/daughter thing? Or is it just reminding me of my own mortality.

We saw Rogue One on Tuesday, the day Carrie Fisher died, as we'd planned to do for about a week, and at the final scene, I gasped and sobbed like a baby. It broke my heart open.

When I was leaving the theater, I got a text from a friend who was clearly sharing headspace with me: I'm weirdly affected by Carrie Fisher's passing, she said. I think many of us are, especially those of us who grew up with her strong Princess Leia as a touchstone. I had picked up her latest book several times at the bookstore and put it back down again. I planned to buy it at some point—but a trip to the store this week finds the shelves are cleaned out, even Amazon has her on back order. We don't want to let go of her just yet and I've read that the publishers are planning another run of her many titles, for which I'm grateful. I downloaded The Princess Diarist audiobook and I'm comforted to have her voice in my ear.

The next day, when we heard the news of Debbie Reynolds, it was another blow. My kids knew her from Singing In The Rain, which I'd watched with them years ago and we still quote from. I've been known to wake them up with a chorus of "Good Morning" and we have a fond and abiding love of "Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously for nobody's toeses are posies of roses as Moses supposes his toeses to be." They know it from the movie; I first learned it through the board game "Pass Out." The bittersweet idea that she died of a broken heart keeps hitting me like a wave. I pray for her family and for comfort and for peace and understanding.

Yesterday, with the kids in the car (where the big talks happen), we were talking about god and heaven and reincarnation and religion. They've been talking about that a lot lately, both of them identify as agnostic, which catches them a lot of grief from their peers. I don't know if it started as a Christmas-related topic of conversation or what, but it's been on their minds. We talked about life and death and reincarnation and heaven.

He said to me, "Mom, I think when you go to heaven that you live in your perfect dream world. Do you?"

"Sure," I replied. "That makes sense."

"Do you think she's Princess Leia for real now?"

I was a little too choked up to answer.

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