Tag Archives: loss

How The Force Awakens Helped Me Grieve

WARNING:  Major spoilers for Star Wars:  The Force Awakens follow. 

I haven’t written anything since my mother passed away at the beginning of September, aside from the obligatory posts on social media. The idea of writing anything else seemed too exhausting, albeit necessary.

But when I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens with my family, like millions of other people, and heard the uproarious fanfare, felt it in my bones I knew I would have to write something.

My mother was a huge Star Wars fan. Growing up, I had seen Star Wars so many times I couldn’t comprehend the reveal that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. My family played Star Wars Trivial Pursuit (which my brother always won), Star Wars Monopoly (which my sister always won), and watched all the movies endlessly. We even had Star Wars Christmas one year and watched the Star Wars Holiday Special (which was definitely missable).  In her later years, my mother collected Star Wars t-shirts. She was known for wearing them almost every day with cool sneakers and her pearls and diamonds. When she started teaching again, her students thought she was awesome for this. At her funeral, we asked people to wear Star Wars t-shirts in her honor rather than black.

My mom especially loved Han Solo. For years, a go-to gift for her would be anything to do with Harrison Ford–Indiana Jones movies and memorabilia, Harrison Ford biographies, Han Solo coffee cup, you name it. She was known for saying that The Empire Strikes Back was her idea of a love story (though she also loved Hanover Street so that may have just been a cover).

Watching The Force Awakens with my brother, sister, their spouses, and my dad, I knew we were all thinking about my mom. It was impossible not to. And when I realized that they were going to kill Han, I felt a little sick for a split second. Not because of the storytelling, but because of my mom. If she were here, what would she think? Will this make my dad cry? (Yes.)

But as I watched it unfold, I couldn’t help thinking that there was a beautiful symmetry in all of it. Han had the perfect send-off. The whole movie was one big Han Solo tribute in the best way possible, which my mom would have loved, and undoubtedly has already watched 100 times over wherever she is. I realized that, if my mom had to go too soon, it was fitting that Han was with her, guiding her on her journey.

Obviously, I know it doesn’t work that way. But that’s the great thing about fiction. Big characters become real to us after a while in ways we don’t fully understand. If midichlorians can be canon, then why can’t my mom have her happy ending with Han Solo in the sunset?

Maybe the Force is with us after all.