So yesterday I had the day off, and I spent the morning watching the NASA live feed of the national memorial service for Neil Armstrong.
Those who know this family, and especially those of you who know the tall boy, know that we have been a little melancholy ever since we learned that Mr. Armstrong had died. It is a true fact that I heard about it on the radio as I was returning from Atlanta after dropping off the girl in charge at Emory University -- and I immediately texted my boy and told him how sorry I was (am).
Because, see -- the tall boy has loved Neil Armstrong since he found out who the great man was. This is a letter my boy wrote to his hero when the tall boy was five years old. He had a little help with the typing. (NASA's Public Affairs office helped Mr. Armstrong answer his mail, and some kind soul there returned the tall boy's letter, along with a reply packet that included photographs of the crews of Apollo 11 and 13 as well as some totally cool posters.)
Since then we have visited the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, trekked to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum I don't even want to know how many times, tracked down movies and books and plays . . . . And that was while the boy was still small enough that he had to rely on us to help him feed his space addiction. This book, I Want to Be An Astronaut, was a gift from his first grade teacher.
These days, my tall boy is somewhat self-sufficient when it comes to sucking down any information about the space program he can inhale from the internet. So when I check in with him on Facebook, I can be sure that I will be reading some excellent article about the merits and "freaking awesomeness" of the Mars rover Curiosity, or about a newly discovered pair of white dwarf stars -- and of course anything -- anything -- about the Apollo astronauts.
Another true fact is that immediately upon moving into his brand spanking new bedroom after our basement renovation, the tall boy put up one poster. Just one.
As you can see from his Facebook post from August 25, the day Mr. Armstrong died, my boy can speak most eloquently about his hero himself:
Events such as this prove the inadequacy of Facebook to convey real, complex emotion. What is there to say? The man was my hero, my idol - he lived my dream. I read about him, I wrote him, I wanted - still do - to be him. The man who was our first civilian astronaut took our dream of reaching the stars and turned it into a stepping stone. The world is a cheaper place for his passing.