Jilara (jilara) wrote,

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Pillar of Fire

I went out to get groceries, a little past 9:30. And knew before they even said what was going on that something was terribly wrong, from the discussion on the radio. What had happened to the shuttle??? Deja vu all over again. Suddenly, my hair literally stood on end and I felt cold as ice. I was back with the Challenger, on my way to work, hearing them say that it had blown up. "Again, the space shuttle Columbia has disintigrated on reentry," said the voice on the radio. It was more calm than I felt. I wanted to start screaming. No, no, no, not again! It moved through my brain in a procession, the Apollo fire, not breathing when the Apollo 11 astronaughts reentered the atmosphere in a long plume of fire--praying, fear etching my emotions on such a dramatic reentry, living on edge for days until Apollo 13 managed to return. The Challenger. That was when I started crying. Cried as I hadn't even cried for the World Trade Center. Maybe it was the girl who wanted to grow up to be an astronaut... Maybe it was the girll who became fascinated by space at age 5. No, no, no, no, no...It was hard to just go do my grocery shopping.

I got home and turned on the TV, having listened to the radio all the way to shop and back. Now images. Streaks breaking up. Not as dramatic as that deathly blooming flowers pointing skyward, but just as haunting. Seven astronauts, dead again.

But before I had even gotten home I had thought on risk. Would I go up on the shuttle if I knew I wouldn't come back. Not if I was healthy and happy. However, from that point, I realized I figured that calculated risk was pretty good. Would I go up if there was a one in four chance I might not come back? Probably. I guess that says something about how I feel about space, and about risk.

But a strange sense of omen pervaded all this, which also is why I think it's hitting on yet another level. Lady Columbia has fallen. That goddess figure that belonged to another era of the American nation. Columbia has fallen. The spirit of Freedom has burned and crashed in a thousand thousand shards, trailing plumes of smoke and flame. Resquiat en Pax. As at the end of the Chris de Burgh song.... "Station Planet Earth is shutting down... Transmission Ends...<.beep, beep, beep------>.

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