The Force is with Carrie Fisher but not with us

Dear Editor,

As a “Star Wars” fan and science fiction geek and fantasy and science fiction author, the Force is with me. The Force was with Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher, too. But she is no longer with us.

This devastating news hit me just two days after Christmas, Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 27. I liked Carrie because of her Princess Leia role since I was a young boy in the 70s. When boys and girls would join in games in the schoolyard, the girls would play her. I would often play Hans Solo or Luke. Her part would be acted out with action figures at home as well.

Somewhat ironic it was for her passing to occur so soon after the holidays because it was promised holiday gifts of “Star Wars” action figures in the 80s that greater boosted interest in the classic film. Mel Brooks parodied this with all of his “Space Balls” merchandise banter in his parody of George Lucas’ first “Star Wars” film.

Though I mostly collected and played with He-man action figures, making stories/scripts for them and little drawings of them and of new characters that better enriched my creative play when I was ages 8 to 11, I also asked for some “Star Wars” action figures and the Ewok Village and received them for Christmas when I was in fourth or fifth grade. I remember playing with the Leia figure and having her interact with the Ewoks in the motherly, protective way she did in the film.

Next, Carrie Fisher was a feisty lady off and on the screen, and feisty ladies have always appealed to me. When I saw her destroy Jabba the Hutt by hoisting him with his own petard, the very chain he used to enslave her, I cheered her on at a mega-plex in Jacksonville, Florida with relatives.

When people decried the cos-player costume of Leia as a slave at sci-fi cons I attended as an author as demeaning to women, I quickly pointed out that she, in a mega-feminist move, rescued herself from Jabba the Hutt.

When there was a controversy the past couple of years about a Princess Leia action figure being released in the slave garb that Jabba the Hutt had put Leia in, I concurred with Carrie Fisher that her character actually freed herself from her oppressor. The figure could be used, in proper context, as a positive symbol of freedom.

Even when I was a boy, I smirked and laughed at her smart butt replies and banter with eventual love interest Han Solo in the first film and “The Empire Strikes Back.” One of my favorite lines from her involved her calling Hans Solo a “scruffy-looking, half-witted nerf herder.” (Hey, at times, I resemble that remark.)

As an adult, I later learned that she was bipolar. She allegedly would be quite moody off and on the set and had some other alleged issues as well. The fact that she spoke out about having bipolar disorder served to advocate for those with the condition.

As a long-time creative author, educator, and journalist, I too have suffered with the bipolar 2 diagnosis, the more stable version of bipolar, as well as anxiety and depression. Not only was the Force with Ms. Fisher and me, but mental illness was as well.

We have lost a great advocate for mental illness, a feisty lady, and an icon of popular culture science fiction. I picture a blue shimmering image of her spirit beside the movie version of her changed father. She has joined the ranks of the noble Jedi Knights and will forever be both princess and warrior to me for eternity.

Ron Baxley,