Dear Ms. Kennedy,
I am sure you have heard about it by now, but if you haven’t I wanted to bring to your attention the story of terminally ill Star Wars fan Neil Hanvey and the #RogueOneWish (Twitter / Facebook) campaign to get him an advance screening of Rogue One before he passes away.
I don’t know Mr. Hanvey and sadly, given his terminal diagnosis, I will not likely ever meet him, but his story hits home with me. Though we are separated by an ocean, Neil and I are close to the same age and part of the same Star Wars generation. I also lost an uncle this year prematurely to cancer, which makes me reflect more than normal on mortality and the toll such loss takes on loved ones. I can’t imagine what Neil, his wife Andrea and their family are going through right now, but I can imagine what Star Wars means to him.
Being born when Neil and I were means that we were born into a world obsessed with Star Wars. There has never been a moment of our lives that Luke, Han, Leia, R2, 3PO and Vader didn’t exist. I couldn’t tell you the first time I saw Star Wars just as I couldn’t tell you about my first breath, first smile, or first tear.
I can tell you about the joy that I found in owning my own copy of the Original Trilogy for the first time, seeing the Special Editions in theaters and having Heir to the Empire ignite a lifetime love of reading. I can tell you about Star Wars helping me deal with the stress of being child of divorce, of facing depression and anxiety. I can tell you about how Star Wars has helped me cope with stresses of adult life, allowed me to mentally recharge so I can be there for my wife and her chronic illness. I can tell you how my wife and I spent many nights early in our marriage watching The Clone Wars, how sharing my love of Star Wars with her and her discovering her own love for the franchise enriched our relationship. I can tell you all about the numerous friends and acquaintances I have made through the Star Wars community, whose kind words, thoughts, and incredibly nerdy debates bring a smile to my face.
I suspect if you asked Neil and Andrea, they could tell you many similar things. But the most important thing I can tell you is that Star Wars is home. Home is not simply a place, it is a feeling. A place to return to, a feeling of love, a shelter during storms, and something to protect. Home is where you form the most important memories of your life, the triumphs and the defeats, moments of pride and embarrassment. Most of all, home is where you spend time with your family.
On Neil’s behalf through the #RogueOneWish campaign, his wife Andrea and their incredible caregiver Amy Duncan are asking that a screening of Rogue One be provided for Neil. I would simply make one request of you Ms. Kennedy: let Andrea take Neil home one last time.