I could have sworn that I took a photograph of Carrie Fisher from across a crowded convention hall in Dallas. It’s not on any of my hard drives or stored anywhere I can find. Gina searched her computer in case I was mistaking one of hers for mine. Nothing.
Apparently, the scene is just so burned into my brain that I convinced myself it was a photograph. I can still see her sitting at the end of the table closest to us. She’s wearing a brown pantsuit and sunglasses. We stood there, Gina and I, in the center of the autograph area, which we called the celebrity zoo, and gawked. I wasn’t about to stand in line for four hours when there was so much to do. There’s always next time, right?
Suddenly I’m a kid and I’m over someone’s house, I don’t remember who, but they had a new VCR and a bootleg of Star Wars and they keep pausing it and rewinding it at all the parts they want to see. Later on, it’s Obi Wan Kenobi disappearing at Vader’s last strike, but the first moment is “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”
Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.
Don’t be alarmed by 2016, children. People have been dying forever. There’s a neat convergence of social media saturation and the mundane march of time going on here, so prepare to get wrecked for the rest of your life. Your grandparents had to mourn Elvis in front of the television. Their parents talked about FDR over the breakfast table as they cracked open their newspapers. They all clung to each other as their progenitors passed, and they didn’t have an electronic bulletin board to slap their grief upon.
Here’s what I want you to do today: If you find yourself in pain, think of someone else you’d like to contact, someone who is currently breathing, someone you appreciate, and write them a letter. Get a piece of paper, a pen, an envelope, and procure the appropriate postage. Let them know, because it’s going to be too late on the day they leave this place.
It’s cathartic to jump on the social media train and I don’t blame you for it. I’ll do it myself, but once we get that notch in our belts we’ll move on to the next tragedy. I’d rather not just live moving from crisis to crisis when I can send someone a message of love and admiration to break up the monotony.
We’ll take things for granted until it’s time for us to be buried or burned. It’s human nature. I am under no illusion that this meager missive will have an impact on millions of years of evolution.
Until then, thank someone today. Thank Carrie Fisher, then thank someone because Carrie Fisher isn’t here to thank anymore.
Maybe from now on, December 25 is Christmas, December 26 is Boxing Day, and December 27 is a new day of thanks for those who gave us hope. The artists who helped us dream when we were little. The people who let us know that maybe there’s more to life, even if it’s a space opera.
Thank you, Carrie.