There was no way for Todd Fisher to predict the tragedy that was looming.
In the fall of 2016, it seemed as if his sister Carrie was at the top of her game. As she filmed Star Wars: The Last Jedi and made finishing touches on her latest memoir, The Princess Diarist, “she was firing on all cylinders and I had never seen her more productive,” he recalls in the new issue of Us Weekly. “She was as happy as I had seen her in a long time.”
But, below the surface, the actress was struggling. “She was self-medicating,” Fisher says of his older sister, who openly spoke out about her battle with addiction and bi-polar disorder. “That’s what was keeping her in balance. The idea that, at any moment, she could lose control was always a real threat.”
And unfortunately a reality. The iconic Princess Leia died on December 27, 2016, just four days after she fell unconscious on a plane. He was hit with another crushing loss the next day when his mother, Debbie Reynolds, passed at 84.
Now, in his emotionally raw memoir My Girls, he pays tribute to the two extraordinary women who shaped his life.
“You don’t realize how connected you are to someone until they’re gone,” the director-producer, 60, admits. “We didn’t spend every day on the phone with each other, far from it. But we were always there for each other, no matter what. This is a thank you, a love letter to both other them.”
Here, he exclusively shares an excerpt about his sister’s 60th birthday bash in November 2016, which would be her last living celebration.
It was going to be huge. Gigantic. Monumental. Ice sculptures? Hell, yes. Bubble machines? Bring ’em. Mom was so excited, not just to be orchestrating something very important for Carrie but also to be waking up every morning with a purpose for the first time since her stroke.
Carrie, in the meantime, wanted absolutely no part of it. She was busy in London filming Star Wars: The Last Jedi, on top of which her book The Princess Diarist was being released. There was no way she was going to squeeze in a quick round-trip from London to L.A. for a birthday party she hadn’t asked for in the first place.
I was on Mom’s side. I knew it would devastate her if Carrie refused to be there. I didn’t give a rat’s ass how inconvenient it was. After all our mother had done for us all our lives, Carrie could damn well get her ass on a plane and give her the pleasure of throwing her a damned birthday party.
Carrie came back at me, just as hard and just as furious. Typical Todd, doing Mom’s bidding, and to hell with what anyone else wants or feels. The whole stupid thing couldn’t have been happening at a worse time, considering her schedule. The last thing she needed was being surrounded in her own house by a bazillion people and furthermore, she wasn’t coming — leave me alone, fuck you, etc.
The bottom line: It was a fantastic party. Carrie stayed in her bedroom for the most part and held court, wandering through the house to say hello and then heading straight back.
Finally it was just Carrie and me, alone in the house, after an evening of paying little or no attention to each other. I was surprised to see that she was in tears. “I can’t do this,” she said. “I can’t have this tension between us.”
She went on to talk about the fact that a day would come when Mom would be gone, when it would be just the two of us, and we were going to need each other more than we ever had in our lives.
Carrie was my girl, and no matter how much we fought or how pissed off we might get at each other, nothing would or could ever change that. “We’re good,” I said.
It was the last face-to-face conversation my sister and I ever had. The next time Mom and I saw Carrie, she was on life support.
From the forthcoming book My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie by Todd Fisher. Copyright © 2018 by Todd Fisher. To be published on June 5, 2018, by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.
For more on Fisher — from Carrie and Debbie’s final days to their legacy — pick up the new issue of Us Weekly on newsstands now. My Girls hits shelves June 5.