When I posted my remembrance of Carrie Fisher to Facebook the other day, a friend commented with a YouTube link to Oprah Winfrey's 2011 interview with Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds. I said I was looking forward to getting around to watching it (and I meant it), but I didn't think I'd find occasion quite so soon.
Then, yesterday evening, it was announced that Reynolds had died after suffering a possible stroke at her son Todd's home earlier in the day.
Fisher and Reynolds had a notoriously fraught relationship, and were alienated for roughly a decade beginning in Fisher's early 20s. But more recently the two were brought together by, among other things, Fisher's struggles with mental illness, including a breakdown in her 30s. By the time they sat down with Oprah in 2011, the two had reconciled their differences, though the generational discrepancies on display — Reynolds' reluctance to call being hit with a switch as a child “abuse,” for instance — are stark, amusing and endearing. They're two extremely famous women with very different ideas about what to present to the public and how it should be done.
But the love they share is palpable. At one point, Debbie describes the time Carrie collapsed on set and was checked in to Cedars-Sinai: “It was a terrifying night. It was pouring rain so you can just picture you're in the car, the rain smashing against the windshield, you're crying like mad and you don't know if your daughter is going to be alive when you get there. There have been a few times when I thought that I was going to lose Carrie. I've had to walk through a lot of my tears, but she's worth it.”
At another point, Reynolds says: “I always feel, as a mother does, that I protect her — who will do that when I'm gone?”
Don't expect to get through this without crying, but watch it all the same. Then, if you can, call your mom.