The "Star Wars" sequels are often at the center of fandom controversy because opinions on the films are divisive, and I understand why. I can critique a lot too, but in the end, the story of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) has been a huge part of many of our lives. Whatever quibbles we've had about some of the choices, it's a decades-long story epic that means the world — if not the galaxy — to so many people.

If you are one of those people, perhaps you understand why a tweet Mark Hamill wrote in 2019 made me cry when I saw it and again as I write this up today. It was very hard for many people to say goodbye to Luke, Leia, and Han, and one scene in particular both comforted fans and reminded them that no one is ever really gone. Not even the characters we love.

Hamill's tweet was in response to a post from the account Star Wars Holo Side, which spoke about the scene from "Star Wars: Episode IX – The Last Jedi" that tugged on all of our heart strings, where the story of the core three "Star Wars" characters came full circle. Hamill wrote about how that impactful moment came to be.

'No One Is Ever Really Gone'

In the tweet, Star Wars Holo Side posted a short behind-the-scenes video of the scene where Luke returns to speak with Leia one last time before he goes off to fight in "Star Wars: Episode IX – The Last Jedi." Luke shows up and has a quiet moment with his twin sister, telling her he's sorry about her son Ben, who she says she knows is gone from her. Luke reminds her that "no one is ever really gone," takes her hand, leaves Han's dice in it, and kisses her on the head. The tweet said:

"This scene […] between Leia & Luke must have been emotionally rich on the set for you @HamillHimself & @rianjohnson for 'The Last Jedi.' I really like [it] as a 'Star Wars' fan. [T]hank you really for what you provided with Luke & Leia, 'The Last Jedi.' Fabulous, thank you!"

Hamill responded to the tweet by saying:

"An emotionally charged day on set filming this because, knowing he was about to sacrifice his life for the greater good, Luke was saying goodbye … forever. The kiss was unscripted & spontaneous in the moment, summarizing his/my feelings in a way words could never have conveyed."

Hamill improvised the kiss on the forehead to say goodbye, and here come the tears again. The thing that no one could have known when they were shooting "The Last Jedi" was that this would be Carrie Fisher's final "Star Wars" film, though footage of her was used to finish "Rise of Skywalker." She died at the age of 60 on December 27, 2016, and "The Last Jedi" was released on December 9, 2017.

A Final Goodbye

Mark Hamill did something for fans that day that gave us comfort. He may have been saying goodbye to his sister in the story with this gesture, but what he gave us was a final goodbye for all of us. Yes, Leia did come back in the final film, but Carrie Fisher was gone. In a way, this let us mourn her passing in a way that was also a tribute to both this incredible woman and our Princess/Senator/General Leia.

I want to take a moment to say something personal about what Princess Leia meant to me on this, the 40th anniversary of "Return of the Jedi." As a little girl, most of the women I saw in film were there as window dressing. They weren't the ones saving the world. They were there as a reward for the hero. Leia was different. She was tough. She directed her own escape. She stood up to Darth Vader face to face and defied him. She ran the Rebellion. She strangled her captor Jabba the Hutt. She rescued Han. She inspired me to be so much more than the world said I could be, and I'm not alone. Millions of children over the years saw a role model who could take care of herself, who loved her friends, and who did her best to save the galaxy, no matter what it cost her. I've carried that with me to this day. We all have.

May the Force be with you. Always.

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