The second my son read about the death of actress Carrie Fisher, he called me. There was no “hello” when I answered. There was only an immediate, “Carrie Fisher died!” I told him that I’d just found out myself and that it was very sad.
His response was, “What will happen to Star Wars?” and “Who will be the voice of Peter’s boss?” I had to think for a second, "Who’s boss?" Then I remembered he was referring to Peter from Family Guy. I told him I would have to talk to him later because I was busy at the moment. Again, I was told, “I can’t believe Carrie Fisher died!”
I knew there would be several conversations, and sure enough, I was right. He was very concerned about the upcoming Star Wars films. How would they work out the death of Princess Leia? She could never be replaced in Ryan’s opinion. When he found out that they had already filmed the 8th movie, there was some relief. But what about the 9th movie and movies after that?
I explained MANY times that the producers would work something out. Sadly, this is not the first time a movie star has passed away who is known for a specific role that he identifies with. I reminded him of Paul Walker from the Fast and Furious movies who also died suddenly.
Ryan doesn’t think in terms of how family or friends will cope with someone’s death. In his world, it’s only about what the person did and how will it impact the future and, in this case, Star Wars and Family Guy, his shows. His only focus is on their death.
When he learned of Debbie Reynold’s passing, he knew her only as Carrie Fisher’s mom. His response— “Isn’t that weird that she died a day later?” I explained that it’s possible she couldn’t imagine burying her daughter and because of this she passed away. I don’t think he thought in those terms. He didn’t look at the pain a mother would experience having to bury her daughter. And, he wasn’t familiar with Reynold’s work. She was not in his world.
We’ve seen several family members and friends since her death on December 27, 2016, and every time, Ryan asks, “Did you hear that Carrie Fisher died?” He will anxiously await to hear what happens to the Princess Leia role and to her voice as Peter’s boss on Family Guy. Those shows will never be the same in Ryan’s world. But as I’ve told him many times, the shows will continue.
Will the subject come up again? You bet it will. Marcia Wallace was a voice on The Simpsons. She died three years ago and we’re still talking about that. The things our kids focus on!
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.