How Long Forever Was: Remembering Carrie Fisher

leia

Rest easy, General.

“It was raining in L.A. and I was Princess Leia. I had never been Princess Leia before and now I would be her forever. I would never not be Princess Leia. I had no idea how profoundly true that was and how long forever was.” — The Princess Diarist

What is a legacy? Hamilton taught me “It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” But I believe some people—if they leave the right kind of mark—live to see at least a small portion of that garden. And I think Carrie Fisher was one of those people.

She got to see the little girls dressed up as Princess Leia. She got to hear stories of women who were inspired by the character she brought to life. And she’d be the first one to tell you that she also got to hear stories of men who were inspired in their own way by the character, too.

Princess Leia is a huge part of Fisher’s legacy. She will live on forever in that character—forever our Princess, our General, our trailblazing badass.

I’ve written so much already about what Princess Leia has meant to me (and I’m planning to write much more in the future), so I’ll just say this about Fisher’s most famous role: I have no idea who I would have become if I never saw Leia shooting her blaster, kissing her pirate, and commanding her troops as a kid, but I do know that woman would have been a lot less confident, independent, outspoken, and happy.

I was introduced to Princess Leia at the ripe old age of five, so it took a while before I understood that she wasn’t real and that a woman named Carrie Fisher played her in the movies. But once I could grasp that concept and I learned about Fisher’s life, I became incredibly intrigued by her writing career. Even as a kid, I knew I loved to write, and upon learning that Fisher became a writer after her time in that galaxy far, far away, it occurred to me that maybe if I couldn’t really be a Princess/Rebel, being a writer might be the next best career path.

Princess Leia is my hero, but so is the woman who played her. And as I’ve gotten older, my admiration for Carrie Fisher beyond her job of bringing Leia to life has only grown. Her ability to be unapologetically, unashamedly, unrelentingly herself in a world that constantly tried to make her feel bad about that is something we all should strive to channel in our own lives. And her emotional honesty and openness—especially in her writing—represents the kind of bravery I can only hope to achieve.

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Daily Dose of Feelings #6

This is a tough one.

When I came up with this list of emotional moments, one of the first scenes I wrote down was the breakup scene between Finn and Rachel from Season Four of Glee. When that episode first aired, I found myself sobbing almost uncontrollably when the couple I’d been rooting for since the pilot ended their relationship for good. I cried because Lea Michele was so raw, real, and absolutely devastating. I cried because this scene perfectly encapsulated the pain of walking away from your first love. I cried because Cory Monteith gave such a subtly heartbroken and lost performance. And I cried because even though this was a breakup scene, it was filled with so much chemistry and so much love that you could practically feel it through the TV screen.

Now, though, I’ll cry even harder every time I watch this scene because of what it means after Monteith’s death. In this scene, he was Michele’s rock, and that’s who he was in all of his scenes on Glee—a rock for his costars and a relatable presence for the audience. Monteith was Glee’s everyman, and the show will never be the same without him. But what really breaks my heart is thinking about how the people who loved him will never be the same without him. It’s clear watching this scene how connected and in love he and Michele were. Throughout the show’s run, he gave her the strength and confidence to go to emotional depths she never reached opposite any other actor. That kind of support and partnership produced her best moments, such as this scene. My heart aches for her when I think of what she lost.

This scene is about the very real heartbreak of the end of a relationship even when love is still clearly there. With time, it will only get more painful to watch as we remember the real-life love story that ended even more painfully than its fictional counterpart.

R.I.P. Cory Monteith.