As everyone doubtless knows by now, actor Carrie Fisher died on 12/27 followed the next day by her mother, the immensely talented Debbie Reynolds. Both performed in arguably the most iconic films of their respective generations, “Star Wars” and “Singin’ in the Rain”.
By all accounts (possibly none of which are reliable) the two had a healthy mother-daughter relationship.
There’s nothing happy about this story. Ms. Fisher died an untimely death at age 60, far too young in this era of medical advances. Her mother survived to what would generally be considered the more reasonable age of 84. Still, Ms. Reynold’s passing is just as tragic. I have to believe the stress of planning her own daughter’s funeral took its toll on her and induced the stroke that took her life. Barring that, she would almost certainly be with us for several more years.
There are lessons to be learned here. The first is the extraordinary toll stress takes on the human body. I’ve experienced it in my own battle with MS. Specific identifiable instances of stress have been the triggers that have caused any setbacks I’ve experienced. Your mileage may vary, but avoiding stress or at least dealing with it in some healthy manner can make a huge difference in your length and—more importantly—quality of life. (I’ve discussed my approach in previous posts, such as this one.)
Second, at the risk of sounding as if I’m casting stones, which I’m not, there’s a fair chance Ms. Fisher’s acknowledged abuse of drugs earlier in her life weakened her heart and might have led to the episode that ended her life. The principle is accepted by medical science; I’ve seen it happen with at least one person in my life. So much for the “victimless crime” of drug abuse. When will we treat addiction as the dangerous sickness it is?
Finally, of course, is the lesson of the brevity and preciousness of life. To squander it on selfishness and vain pursuits is a grave waste and a disservice to humanity and your Creator. Instead, consider the ultimate meaning of your life in light of eternity. As the current Pope’s namesake prayed:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
You and I are unlikely to leave behind a legacy of classic films and (spoiler alert!) CGI images. But we can do even better.