Today we lost Carrie Fisher. In a year in which we lost so many important figures, Fisher’s was the latest, and for me hardest to swallow.

I have been a Star Wars nerd for some time. And since my nerdom began, Princess — then General– Leia Organa has always been the character I was most drawn to. Han was a lovable rogue; Luke the ideal hero and protagonist. But Leia… she was always so much more to me.

Born into royalty, she nevertheless fought for those worse off than she. She lost her mother early and her father and her people with the destruction of Alderaan. But she was fierce, intelligent, determined and outspoken. Powerful not because of her ship or because of the Force, but because of her mind and her capacity to inspire and lead.

From her character, I learned a lot, but from Carrie Fisher I learned more. Fisher had struggles in life, but was unrelenting in bouncing back. She was funny, smart, willing to speak her mind and thoughtful.

Her struggles with addiction and mental illness were a profile in courage; in the ability to succeed and to blaze trails wherever she went. And she never lost her spark of humor. In fact, one of the simplest things that I loved about her, and to me encapsulated Fisher was the one look she would give, similar to the picture above, where Fisher seemed poised on the verge or either a smile or a cutting, smart-assed remark. Perhaps both.

Fisher was courageous, like Leia. Or maybe it was the other way around.

For me, it is fitting that the last role she reprised, General Organa, was to me the most meaningful. She was a dedicated fighter. She had lost everything: her son, her brother, her lover. Yet she fought on. Not for some personal gain. But for freedom and democracy. She was the pillar of the Resistance. Not Luke. Leia. And she will be sorely missed.