Last week we all had our nerdy little hearts warmed by the story of Daniel Fleetwood, a Star Wars fan with terminal cancer who, believing he wouldn’t live to see December, made a very public wish to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens early. The internet rallied around him, and even Star Wars cast members like Mark Hamill and John Boyega joined in the campaign to let him see the film.
It worked. Last week director J.J. Abrams called Fleetwood to let him know that he would get to see the film, and by Thursday representatives had screened an early cut for him at his home. It was a powerful example of just how important movies can be to some people, and it also came not a moment too soon.
Earlier today, Fleetwood’s wife Ashley shared the final selfie she ever took with her husband on Facebook, and announced that he died in his sleep.
“Daniel put up an amazing fight to the very end. He is now one with God and with the force. He passed in his sleep and in peace. He will always be my idol and my hero. Please hug uncle Marc for me and give Lucy lots of kisses. Rest in peace my love. This was the last selfie we ever took together.”
Over the next few months, we’re going to be talking about Star Wars a lot. We’ll pick apart the plot of the new movie, tear down what we hate and elevate what we love, nitpick the tiniest details, and argue passionately over every single frame. In the midst of that, we’ll hear a lot of people respond with “It’s just a movie” in the hope that nerds like me will finally shut up. Well, in a lot of ways they’re right, but for Daniel Fleetwood Star Wars wasn’t just a movie. It was one of his final great joys in life, and there’s something beautiful about that.