We have lost two Hollywood heavyweights. Mother and daughter, immensely talented, flawed and strong...Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher are both (I hope) on their way to heaven.
Debbie Reynolds was the star I wanted to be when I was a little girl. The grand dame of Hollywood musicals, Debbie was beautiful without being over-the-top. I loved that she could do it all - dance, sing, act - with such effortless grace. I wanted to be Debbie Reynolds. Or Bette Davis....actually I really wanted to just be a star.
Debbie's daughter Carrie Fisher was the gal with whom I shared a lot. Both of us the same age, with flawed fathers and struggles with substance abuse, Carrie found the type of success I had hoped to find but never did. Carrie, who grew up Hollywood Royalty, carved out a niche that was uniquely her own. She was an actress, an author, a woman of substance. Never afraid to confront her own demons in a public way, Carrie Fisher made it possible for others to do the same. She gave courage a face and because of her bravery others found it possible to look at those around them and say, "I am also struggling". She found herself...and never apologized for the woman she saw in the mirror.
In one of her interviews, Carrie said that if she could tell her younger self anything it was that saying "I don't know" is okay. Wise words. So many of us are afraid to do that, to just admit that we don't know everything or that we are flat out wrong about what we were so sure of even six months ago. I have certainly had a difficult time learning that lesson. For instance, this past election cycle proved to me that I really know nothing about politics. Quite frankly, my only comfort is that, apparently, I am in really good company.
Carrie found sobriety and with sobriety came the strength she needed to walk the path God made visible to her. It was not with a cost, but it also came with great triumph and she allowed the world to see into her life through her writing. The struggle was personal, private and played out on the public stage for all to see.
Sobriety started me on my path to sanity too. Once sober, it was finding my way Home to the Catholic Church that has given me the strength I need to walk the path I am on but it has not been without a cost. I am no longer sad about who or what I have lost as a result of finding my way back to the Eucharist. Just as Carrie found her voice, I have found mine. Just as she came to find peace and healing with her family, I have found mine.
I look at the great gifts both these women gave to the world and I realize how very blessed I was to grow up while they were in the world. Debbie Reynolds, a woman of strength and dignity who weathered pain and betrayal without losing her sense of humor. Carrie Fisher, a woman of grace and intelligence who walked through the storms of alcoholism and mental illness with twinkle in her eye and a love for the universe that shown through her gorgeous brown eyes.
May I remember what they taught me and smile....may I walk this path with the same spring in my step, trust in the Lord and laughter as the two of them. Help me to be the woman You made me to be, Lord....just like Debbie and Carrie.