That’s What Friends Are For

forceiswithyouI walked through the resort quietly. Maybe not so quietly. It was Wednesday night, and with the accoutrements dangling from my backpack, I jingled around the pathways. I can’t remember if it was 2010 or 2012 that we stayed here for Celebration. I suspect 2010. I suspect it because I remember we were drinking.

I remember where our room was. Sort of. The resort is under major construction now, so I can’t be sure. But I walked by every place I thought it could be. Through the lobby, through the restaurant and to the left. We went to Cocoa Beach first on that trip, and stayed in a cheap hotel in a crappy room. When we arrived at this place on Thursday morning, I remember we just flopped onto the bed which seemed so luxurious. There was a mini fridge, and we packed in the alcohol for the trip. I was raring to get over to the convention center, and Adam was like “Just give me five more minutes in this air-conditioned room on this bed.”

The moon was out as I walked the paths in 2017. The celebrations merge together in my mind, but I remember this one because we annoyed the doormen by choosing our own taxi instead of waiting for them to call up the next one. The taxi driver gave us his number and he drove us anywhere we wanted that trip. That one night it was to the Funky Monkey, where they just happened to have one table left for the Star Wars drag show.

I’m looking at some info now, and I see that Ian McDiarmid’s first celebration was 2012 in Orlando. We would have gotten the Emperor’s autograph. I wonder now, a year after we first realized he was sick, was he already drinking that much again? Were we limiting it? Had I become his mother along with his wife, frightened, but giving “permission”? Am I conflating my memories? I might be.

Without Adam, I didn’t get up at 4:30 a.m. to stand in line for panels now. I suspect that Adam would have agreed with me about that.

On Friday at the con this time, I wandered the Art Show area. Adam and I loved this part of the celebration, and we would wait for a particular limited edition print to jump out at both of us … one we had to have. I remember the last time there weren’t any we both loved.

This year, I was almost through the gallery, disappointed that there were so few Rogue One prints, when I came upon this one. I said to the artist, “I always walk around waiting for the one to jump out at me, and this was it.” He said “Can I ask why?” I said “Do you want to hear a short and sad story?” “He put his pen down and gave me his full attention, as I explained how Rogue One figured in our fight for Adam’s survival, how “I am one with the Force, the Force is with me,” was so important for me.

He cried, he hugged me. He later asked for a selfie so he could remember my story. He said that I was the second person who had come to him sharing that his artwork had meant some sort of survival, or friendship, or gratitude On the poster, he signed “The Force is with you … both.” He asked to hear Adam’s name.

Here is the poster. I dedicate it to all of you as well.

friends are for

The Princess

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Reaffirming our vows in the Star Wars Commitment Chapel at Celebration V in Orlando, 2010.

The fact is, Princess Leia was never a role model for me.

I didn’t grow up thinking I needed a female hero. I didn’t grow up thinking she was a maverick character; a hero who was unlike women who came before her.

I was all about Luke Skywalker. It’s just the way it is. I was boy crazy I think from birth, and I liked NICE guys. Han Solo, that rogue and scoundrel, wasn’t for me. I liked the fresh-faced farm boy. How apropo, huh? Because that’s what I got in Adam (although yes, I know he got into a wee bit of trouble in his youth).

The thing is about Princess Leia … I hadn’t grown up thinking girls and women couldn’t be heroes. In 1977, I think I still thought I could actually be a Los Angeles Dodger. My mom and dad taught me through their love, trust and support that I could do anything or be anything. I didn’t need Princess Leia as a hero for that. But many girls did, and I’m glad girls today have Jyn Erso and Rey.

I preferred male heroes anyway. It’s just the way I was. Luke instead of Leia, Hicks instead of Ripley, Rico instead of Dizzy, Jamie Lannister (yes, Jamie, at least book Jamie) instead of Arya, Star Lord instead of Gamora.

It wasn’t Princess Leia who I loved, it was Carrie Fisher. As I grew older, struggled with my own depression here and there, I admired her candid nature. I like to think that maybe I’m a little like her. I say what I want to say; I’ve always been open about my mental health struggles to those who asked. I went out in my life and tried to kick ass. I knew what I wanted and I got much of it, perhaps a little like Princess Leia. I like to think maybe that’s something that Adam loved about me. Who is that sent me a birthday card that once compared me to a Mack truck with an “I need a hug” sign on it? I sort of always relished in that.

commitment-2
With Steve Sansweet, the greatest Star Wars fan, who performed our commitment ceremony.

In Orlando at Star Wars Celebration V in 2010, we waited a long time for autographs with Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. Ms. Fisher was pleasant and generous, and shook hands with each person; she looked them in the eye. We freaked out like Laura Linney in “Love Actually.”

That Celebration, we also reaffirmed our marriage vows in the Star Wars Commitment Chapel. How lucky were we that we got Steve Sansweet, the greatest SW fan and collector in the universe, as our officiant. Margie Halloran was our witness and took these photos for us.

With Carrie Fisher dying, a little of our passion in Star Wars dies. Sixty is too young, just as 43 is too young. Adam and Ms. Fisher both struggled with addiction. She conquered hers, and she has pushed to make mental illness an everyday topic. I like to think Adam may have conquered his at the end as well. I think of him as a success despite his death.

Show compassion for your friends and family with addiction and mental illness. Have courage in dealing with it. Make the lives of people like Adam and Ms. Fisher matter by passing on what they have taught us.

May the Force be with all of us, but selfishly, especially for me right now.