As an avowed Star Wars geek...
...You know - perhaps I shouldn't have started this post with that sentence because, already, I can imagine a good bulk of you groaning and switching off. But stick with me here because this is a good one - I swear.
I have met and interacted with a lot a like minded Star Wars geeks over the years and many of these interactions have been wonderful with a lot of mutual geeking out, talking all things Skywalker, Vader, the Galaxy far, far away and much playing with Kenner/Hasbro figurines...
Still with me?
One of the most significant of these interactions however, was one of those unique experiences that is tinged with a little tragedy. In 1999, which was of course the year Episode One was released into cinemas, I was nursing here in Adelaide and I came across a young cancer patient who was possibly the biggest Star Wars fan I had come across - apart from myself. His name was David and over the course of about 6 weeks in April/May of that year, I spent a lot of hours looking after David.
The writing was on the wall for David.
He was terribly ill, terminally ill as it were and everyone knew that his days were numbered. His room at the hospital was decked out with Star Wars paraphernalia, posters, toys, books. Someone had brought in a TV and video set up so that he could watch the films back to back (this was of course the Original Trilogy on VHS at that time). For a short time, while David was there in the hospital, you could step into his room and disappear into a kind of localized galaxy not so far away.
And of course me, being a well known Star Wars geek amongst my colleagues, found myself (well...I made sure I found myself) allocated to his care most of the time. Which suited us just fine. Most shifts were me and him swapping stories, sharing collectibles and like I said before...just geeking out.
A well understood but not often discussed reality between us was the likelihood that David would not survive to see Episode One and, given his parlous condition in the lead-up to the film's release, it was highly unlikely that we could ever get him into a position where we could get him to the cinema - not that we didn't investigate the possibility mind you.
I could continue the story in words here and now but I'd like to share with you, a short piece of audio that I recorded for the Star Wars internet radio show The Force Cast. I recounted the story during a period where the Kyle Newman directed movie "Fanboys" was going through a pretty rough patch in it's development - precisely because it's own story dealt with a very similar case of someone facing death in the lead-up to the release of Episode One.
It's not a long piece of audio but even now, it says much about all that is good about Star Wars and it's fan base.