At one year without her

Originally published December 27, 2017

I forgot that today marked a year. I didn’t want to remember, because how in the fuck can it be that she’s gone.

I’ve grieved, in a very personal way, for other celebrities. There are still moments when my eyes fill with tears because Jim Henson is no longer here. Bowie’s death was a black hole at the core of the art and subcultures that made me, while Prince’s was a stunning slap to the face that still stings. But Carrie Fisher’s death still feels almost unbearably cruel, in a way that challenges my supposed agnosticism.

Of course Leia Organa matters enormously to me; I would not be who I am without the Star Wars universe and the saga of the Skywalkers, and Leia as a symbol of resistance against fascism is unbelievably powerful in the moment we face right now. But Carrie, with her stinging wit and her profound skill at the structure of writing and her anger and her penitence and her absolute ownership of all her flaws and failings and her refusal to accept any shit at all that anyone tried to dump on her, Carrie was who helped me find who I need to be. Losing Leia Organa is painful, but it could be borne. Not having Carrie Fisher is just such a burning, unfixable unfairness.

The moments with her I find myself thinking of most are in this video: Her, curled up in a chair next to Craig Ferguson, being hilarious and filthy and wry and shiningly herself. This interview (if you can even call it that) was a turning point for me; I was still struggling with my bigness and messiness and my writing, worrying that I didn’t have the ability to be elegant and demure and reserved in how I use words. This moment of television felt like permission to be myself, to use filthy language and be open and messy and as loud as I need to be, as long as I never let the work itself suffer. She didn’t do any of this with the intent of giving a messy middle-aged fan a lifeline to herself, and I know that. But I still hope I won’t let her down.

My spouse gave me two gifts of enormous import that represent how much Carrie Fisher mattered to my life. On the 21st, before we went to see The Last Jedi, he gave me this set of charms, from Optimystical Studios. I’m going to make a piece of jewelry with the women of the Rebellion/Resistance. The General Organa pendant I originally wanted was sold out, which was a keen disappointment; when spouse explained to Optimystical what he was trying to do for me, they made a new one especially for me.

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And on Xmas morning, he gave me this print, by Lindsay Van Ekelenburg, and I ugly-cry every time I look at it. I’m still deciding where the right place is for it to hang, so that I can be inspired every day by that face and that middle finger.

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