The new year is a time when we think about clean slates, fresh starts, and not repeating mistakes or doing things we might regret later. As I've said, I'm not into "resolutions" but rather attainable goals. However, I think this one falls into the "resolution" category.
I've spoken before about my "click moments" for characters; those flash insights that define a character. For Blake Windsor of WHAT'S IN A NAME? it was the line, "Papa, I don't think I said I love you near enough" from Dan Fogelberg's song, Leader of the Band.
Many times I thought about looking up contact information for him, just drop him a short note saying I enjoyed his music, and how I was inspired by that line and wrote a book. But the book was just a 'fun thing' I was doing, and it sounded silly, so I let it slide. Then the book was published, I had no qualms about telling anyone how that one line of the song was the fire behind the character, and thus, for me, the entire story. After all, who reads e-books? But bother a famous star with my little thank-you? He'd probably think I was just trying to get some free publicity was my rationalization.
Then the book came out in print and I could hold it in my hand. People read it, and liked the way Blake was forced to face the reality of what had motivated his entire existence. Again, I quoted the lyrics. Finally, during some of the post-Christmas downtime, I took those few moments to track down a website to find a contact so I could tell Dan Fogelberg what that one line had created for me.
This is what I found:
Dan left us on December 16 at 6:00am. He fought a brave battle with cancer and died peacefully at home in Maine with his wife Jean at his side. His strength, dignity, and grace in the face of the daunting challenges of this disease were an inspiration to all who knew him.
I was 10 days too late. I was as guilty as he had been in the song about not speaking up in time. Leader of the Band cycled into my background iTunes mix a few minutes ago, and it brought tears to my eyes. Would he have cared if one fan said his work made a difference? I don't know. But I sure as hell wish I'd taken the time to let him know before it was too late. And hadn't felt it was silly for me to give him a mention when I wrote the acknowledgements for the book.
And if you or anyone you love isn't getting regular screens for prostate cancer, DO IT NOW.