Sunday, November 2, 2014

101 Star Wars Variations 100: Padme Didn't Die

Anakin Skywalker married the former Queen Amidala of Naboo, thereafter known as Padme, one-time senator of the Republic.  In time, he turned his dedication to the Jedi way into a path towards the Dark Side, where he became known as Darth Vader.

When the transformation was complete, after his body became horribly mutilated and scarred in his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar and he stood encased in his life-preserving apparatus, he no longer had a bride.  But Padme didn't die.

She did not go into hiding.  You cannot hide on your home world, where everyone has known you since you were born.  She did not retreat.  She began a grieving process.

She had also just given birth, to twins, who were taken to Tatooine and Alderaan to be raised by foster parents, who could nurture them and give them futures that Padme could no longer envision on her own.  On her own she felt weak, too weak.  All her life she'd been strong, and suddenly she no longer believed in herself.  What else could she do?  What else could be expected of her?  Vader became the personification of evil, a specter even the Empire feared, buried in layers of myth, so that even those who knew him personally didn't know how to behave around him.  They came up with various solutions, and none of them were adequate.

The reverse would have been true of Padme as well, if she'd returned to her life.  She could no longer hide the truth, but she did not want to live with it, either.  There had been reports of her death, of course, and she let them persist so long that they became the basis for her exile.  The same had been said about a few of her Jedi friends, with whom she remained in contact.  One of them was Yoda, the other Kenobi, who agreed to watch over her son on Tatooine.  Theirs was an exclusive club.

In time, she wondered if she would reemerge.  For the time being she was content to nurse her emotional wounds.  On Naboo she was allowed privacy.  She had learned all its secrets a long time ago, and as part of another exclusive club, the royalty of that world, she was privy to those others knew nothing about.  She had trained for her new role all her life.

Yet it was a role without purpose, only that she try to forge ahead, if she could.  On Alderaan her daughter was raised a princess, though it was a life that was in all other ways separated from what she herself had known.  There were no demands on her daughter, but Padme smiled when she saw how Leia took up the crusade against tyranny.  Her son, Luke, toiled in obscurity, exploited by his uncle, but gifted, too, exposed to a world her daughter wouldn't know for years, a world of wonders.  Her son had the advantage of learning what her husband had discovered by accident.  The difference was palpable.  She saw the same restlessness in both of them, but while one had been spoiled, the other spent his time yearning, which was something he inherited from his mother.

No one asked a thing of her.  There was some relief in that, she had to admit.  No more demands.  No more pressure.  No more expectations.  She had to admit some of that had led to everything she had to struggle against regretting, for she loved her children dearly.  She lent her support behind the scenes.  She was the strength behind the leadership of the Rebellion.  She never left it behind.  As her contemporaries grew older and a new generation appeared, she felt the responsibility less and less, and she could finally relax.  When her offspring met for the first time, she wanted to be there, to tell them she loved them, that she was proud.  She knew their journey was not yet complete.  As long as Vader still lived, her own story remained unfinished.

Was there hope for him?  That was what her son thought.  The thought intrigued her.  He worked tirelessly toward his father's redemption, and it was that belief that led to the victory of the Rebellion, the end of the Empire.

And, at last, the day Padme emerged back into the rest of the galaxy.  She had much to tell her children.

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