Two days before the public memorial for his mother Debbie Reynolds and his sister Carrie Fisher, Todd Fisher shared details about their final days.
As he and Reynolds discussed the death of the Star Wars actress on the evening of Dec. 27, she told him, “‘I want to be with Carrie.”
In retrospect, he told Entertainment Tonight, she was “asking for permission” to do just that, going so far as to give him a refresher on how she wanted her estate handled.
Todd, 59, added that his mother made a last-minute change regarding her funeral plans.
“She no longer wanted to be cremated, she wanted to be buried with Carrie,” he revealed to ET. “Now she wanted the tomb idea that I had brought up long ago.”
At the time, she had vetoed his idea, saying she didn’t want to draw attention to herself. But after the loss of Carrie, she changed her mind.
“So we bought this great tomb over at Forest Lawn (cemetery),” he said. “She changed her mind that night.”
Reynolds died of a hemorrhagic stroke, or a ruptured blood vessel in her brain the next day,
He disputed news reports saying that his mother “died of a broken heart,” he said, noting that she was at peace when she died.
“It looked like she asked permission to leave, told me she was going to leave, told me she loves me, closed her eyes and went to sleep,” he recalled. “That’s kind of a magical, beautiful thing. As much as it’s also hard, it’s what she wanted.”
Three months after that one-two punch, Todd said “he was really OK” with his mother’s death but “not so OK” with that of his 60-year-old sister, who succumbed a few days after going into cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles.
“Carrie was in the middle of what was, I thought, her finest hours,” he recounted to ET. “Her creativity was peaking, the Star Wars thing was obviously back in spades. Everything that she was doing was turning to gold.”
He said he’s tried to leave “breathing room” for Carrie’s daughter, actress Billie Lourd, noting that he was more heartbroken for her than for himself and praising her for being a “powerful gal” who is “genetically Carrie and Debbie.”
Still, it’s a lot for anyone to deal with, let alone a 24-year-old.
“She’s dealing with two gigantic losses,” Todd said. “These two girls — my girls, my mother and my sister — were big, big personalities (with a) big influence on Billie, myself, many people.”
The memorial service, set for Saturday at Forest Lawn, will be streamed live at DebbieReynolds.com, but Todd said Billie is unlikely to play a major role.
“We started having reality checks on these things,” he explained. “She realized, ‘I’d be lucky to sit through this.'”
If you watch the service, he advised to stock up on tissues.
“Hopefully it’s a roller coaster, where we have laughs and all of these things,” he teased. “It is a true memorial in the sense that you’re looking at all these real moments, and then you feel that loss, so you’re going to cry.”
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Todd Fisher: Dying Debbie Reynolds "asked permission’ to ‘be with Carrie’ – USA TODAY