The Death of Daniel Fleetwood, The Force, Life’s Moments, and Awesome Strangers

The Death of Daniel Fleetwood, The Force, Life’s Moments, and Awesome Strangers
Daniel Fleetwood, Jedi Master

I sit at my desk this morning not certain what to write about.  I have several ideas floating in my brain.  Thoughts about Starbucks (this is really an issue?!); I still can’t get over Tyshawn Lee’s death and I find what’s going on at the University of Missouri very interesting. 

I also want to write something apologizing for my vote for Bruce Rauner. 

But looking at today’s headlines, Daniel Fleetwood moved me.

Daniel Fleetwood died at 32 years old.  He suffered from spindle cell sarcoma, a rare cancer that took his life.  And reading about him, I find myself tearing up at work, thinking—maybe I should get myself together before people come in. 

Daniel, like many of us, was a lifelong Star Wars fan.  In July, his doctors gave him two months to live.  At that time, he and his wife, Ashley, started a campaign to view Episode 7 before his death.  He didn’t think he would live until the film opens, December 18th. 

He didn’t live until the film’s opening, but he did get to see it.  Employees for Lucasfilm brought an unedited version of the film to his Texas home and he got to screen it one week before he died.

And now I’m a blubbering idiot.   

I’m an idiot because I am a Star Wars geek eagerly awaiting to see the new installment, with two sets of tickets already in hand for December 17th and 18th.   

I’m an idiot because I appreciate what Lucasfilm and Disney did for Daniel.  His wife wrote: “To all our wonderful supporters, friends, family and awesome strangers: Daniels final dream was just granted.  Today, the wonderful Disney and Lucasfilms made his final dream come true!  Lastly, I want to thank ALL the amazing people who helped make this happen, thank you beyond words!!!  May the force be with you all.” 

But most importantly, it served as a reminder about life’s little moments and that we have to cherish those moments, because tomorrow is not promised.  We get caught up in our jobs, our possessions and creating stress by working so hard to get more things, we lose sight of what we already have: The people in our lives that already desire our love and attention.

My soon to be seven year-old son and I had a great weekend, which included dinner with out-of-town family, a great time watching Northwestern v. Penn State in Evanston with Uncle Mike,  playing football and going to birthday parties.  On Sunday, we shared a little moment at McDonalds.  We had just gone shopping for his friend’s gift and we had to eat a quick lunch before heading to the birthday party.  Because Amy and I went to a birthday party with sympathetic bartenders (it was a self-serve bar) the night before, I NEEDED McDonald’s.  So we went in, got some food and set up in front of a television watching the Steelers/Raiders game.  My son and I sat, talked football, while eating McDonalds.  A little moment just snuck up on me.  I didn’t plan or anticipate it.  It just organically happened.  And I appreciated that moment and am thankful for it. 

So, that’s why I welled up.  I’m sad that Daniel Fleetwood will not be able to appreciate life’s little moments anymore.  But I am also thrilled that Lucasfilm did the right thing and gave him another one of those moments before he passed away.

Considering all the negative things that I wanted to write about today, I am especially grateful that I read about Daniel and the awesome strangers that helped provide him his dying wish.  It is a reminder that the Force does exist.  As Obi Wan taught, it is all around us.  It is an energy field created by all living things, it surrounds us and penetrates us.  It binds the galaxy together.  We feel it as it flows through us.  Awesome strangers are part of it.  Our little moments are part of it.   It’s life. 

Thank you for the reminder, Daniel.  May the Force be with you.  Always. 

Filed under: Change of Pace, To Life!

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