For the first time since we've been together, Steve had to work on Super Bowl Sunday. The horror! He had been hoping against hope to get called off but it wasn't meant to be.
What was meant to be was having the rest of his shift canceled at 1:15 am Monday, over three hours after the Super Bowl ended, and when I had been asleep for over two hours. But no matter, I was thrilled to be able to put on boots over the jammies, eyeglasses, and drive bleary-eyed to pick up my best friend. When your husband works nights you learn to make the most of those unexpected pockets of time.
At 4:10 Steve woke me up yet again--what the heck? Time to watch the space shuttle launch. It was the last night launch in the last year of our space program. At least in my lifetime. I hope our kids will someday know what an astronaut is.
I will make sure they do.
It was the first night launch I can remember in a lifetime of watching launches. Growing up we just had to walk out the front door of the 24th avenue house and see the flash of orange against the sky. Once my dad got hold of NASA tickets for a viewing as close as you can get in Cape Canaveral and there you felt the ground shake you were so close. I was in 2nd grade standing in the big kids' playground at school when the Challenger exploded. We knew what we were seeing wasn't normal but didn't fully comprehend until lunchtime, when for the first and last time the cafeteria televisions were turned on and broadcasting the news. In 1998 when Senator John Glenn returned into space I was peering up at the sky alone and unexpectedly teared up at the thought of him coming full circle from 1962.
But oddly enough no night launches, although I had always wanted to see one. So once again I wordlessly got out of bed, put on my boots and eyeglasses, wrapped a blanket around myself and we walked into the road. And looked north. And waited. Waited. Until we saw it--unmistakeably brilliant against the clear night sky. It felt like it was just us left behind on Earth, watching this incredible ship carry those astronauts. Wham--separation of the rocket boosters, plain as day, and we couldn't bring ourselves to go inside as it got tinier and tinier in the distance 'till it just looked like one big glorious star.
See, I told my husband, how Florida was a great place to grow up?
Image from Capture of Time