When I was a kid, I think around seven or eight, I used to watch reruns of classic Doctor Who on PBS at my grandparents house. I distinctly remember curling up on a big overstuffed recliner, enthralled by a man with very curly hair and a scarf that was way too long, and his smart-talking companion with short brown hair who never let him talk down to her just because she was a woman. Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane; that's where it was at. She was the companion all others were compared to, and though I liked Leela well enough, and though I think Amy Pond is adorable, it will always be Sarah Jane that I admire and wish to emulate. A strong and infinitely capable woman.
In her appearances in the new incarnation of Doctor Who and in her own spin-off, the character of Sarah Jane was even more formidable, if that were even possible. And the astounding part of that is that Elisabeth Sladen was in her 60s and making a comeback current starlets can't manage in their wildest dreams. She put so much of herself into her role that it was impossible not to love her, the well-spoken, sharp, classy lady. To everyone who loved her through her role as Sarah Jane, I like to think we all got to meet her anyway, and to us she will always be "my" Sarah Jane.
Her passing strikes a particularly resonant note with me, as she passed from cancer, and my dearly loved aunt Denise passed from cancer a month ago tomorrow, another wicked and wonderful woman without whom the world is little dimmer, a little less fabulous than it was before. The passing of strong women who teach us what it is to live according to your own ideals is always tragic, and it is more important once they've gone to remember what they have taught us, directly or through example, about being true to yourself and unwavering in your zeal for life. "Travel really does broaden the mind" and we should all have our own adventures, as many of them as we can pack into our brief spans on this planet.
I shall have more to say on the subject of my aunt as we near her memorial service in June, after I've had a chance to process through my grief. For now, it is easier to meditate on the loss of Elisabeth Sladen, since I can relive all my memories of her through the legacy of her career. I will leave you with the tribute made to her by those who knew her, grew up with her, and had the good fortune to work with her.