Courageous, beautiful, uncompromising and brave–those are just a few words that can be used to describe Princess Leia Organa. As a young boy watching Star Wars for the first time the first image that springs to my mind was my reaction the to the horror and respect garnered by Darth Vader–second to that however was the awe and admiration I had to see a white cloaked young lady with quite the fascinating hair style face the Dark Lord with  the courage, spunk, and tenacity that completely floored my childhood expectations. I watched her stand up to Grand Moff Tarkin with the same courage, spouting off insults such as “I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.” I saw her endure the agony of an Imperial torture droid. I gazed in amazement as she watched billions of her people die with the destruction of her beloved home, Alderaan. I laughed heartily when she barked at Han, “Into the garbage chute, flyboy,” while blasting a path to escape (which was ironic because wasn’t she supposed to be the one getting rescued)? Throughout the original series she continued to impress and amaze with her leadership, strength, compassion, and temerity in the face of all circumstances. I mean seriously, let’s recap–her entire planet blew up, she endured incredible torture, she was tied up to Jabba the Hutt as his personal slave, and had to balance the affections of the Luke Skywalker and Han Solo love triangle. Yet she never wavered, never faltered, and always remembered that there was something inside her that made her special, that kept her pushing forward. Her character was a fantastic model for all young girls everywhere.

As I sit here reflecting upon Carrie Fisher’s life. I still have the image stamped into my mind of that brave young princess’s very first scene in A New Hope. In this scene Leia stares death itself in the face as she is brought before the quintessential villain Darth Vader, her eyes ablaze with resolve. How could someone so defenseless and so small show such incredible resolve in the face of pure evil? I had just seen Darth Vader crush the windpipe of Captain Antilles in a blind rage and now this little princess with the fierce eyes and brave heart was standing before me looking directly into that dark mask of evil without the slightest bit of fear and trembling.  Her opening line in that scene was, “Darth Vader–only you could be so bold.” Only he could be so bold?? Here she is surrounded by storm troopers, standing before the Dark Lord of the galaxy who holds her life in his hands and yet she is unshaken. She faces him down with authority and with the fate of the universe in her hands she stands with the confidence she exudes throughout the entire trilogy–the confidence that says, “Oh death, where is thy sting?”

As a kid I was awestruck by that. It still impresses me today. When I first witnessed the character of Leia Organa in action I learned a valuable lesson–that I could be brave no matter what faced me, even it was death; that I could be strong even if my world crumbled around me–just Leia’s phyiscal world of Alderaan crumbled around her. It was all about her focus–her focus on others, her focus on those she loved, and her focus on the fate of the universe that kept her heart beating, that kept her from giving it all up for personal security or comfort.

This morning at 8:55 a.m. Carrie Fisher stared death down again. This time it wasn’t a movie–there were no cameras, lights, or directors yelling action. This time death took her. I can’t help but imagine her looking death in the face once more and saying,

“Only you could be so bold.”

Yes, my friends, death is bold. It claims us all. But we need not be afraid. There are so many things to be a part of–so many things to do. We have a mission, we have a purpose. And just like our dear beloved Princess Leia, that purpose beats inside every one of us and makes us strong.

Rest in Peace, Carrie. And may the Force be with you.