The Space Shuttle - A manned multipurpose, orbital-launched space plane.
Amid much speculation and teeth gnashing they launched it once again. And as I read of the problems that the Shuttle is having my memory is flooded. I remember 1981 - I was nominated and won the Employee of the Year Award. Part of the honor of the award was the privilege of going to Edwards Air Force Base to watch the first shuttle ‘Columbia’ land. It was an exciting event to be a part of and something that I will always feel privileged for having seen.
Then there was January 28, 1986 and the ’Challenger’ - I remember being in my office when someone ran in and yelled that the Challenger had exploded. We all went downstairs where they had set up televisions. I remember standing there in a state of shock surrounded by co-workers that were moaning and crying. We had gotten acquainted with one of the crew. We had sat in a conference room while he had told us of his training, shown us his suit, and shared with us his total awe and wonder. I had never seen anyone so enthusiastic about a journey. And I have never seen such mass heartbreak as when that journey was ended in tragedy.
I think of this crew as I read of the trouble they are having with their ‘space plane‘. I pray that this shuttle will carry them back to earth safely. I have total awe for the men and women that venture up so high and so far.
This may not be universally understood, but I feel that I, in many ways, am fortunate to have been disabled at a young age. I have had a lifetime to learn how to deal with a body that doesn’t want to do everything everybody else’s does. I have had a lifetime to learn to deal with rude, unthinking people. I have had a lifetime to build a set of defenses and strengths. I have had a lifetime of learning how to pick myself back up when my body throws me a curve.
I think it is so much harder for people that find themselves disabled in the middle of their life. They have to deal with shock, denial, anger, and frustration all at once. They have to learn to function differently, to accept help, to prevent bitterness from invading their souls.
John was struck with MS in his late 40’s. I watch him as he learns to deal with people offering to help him. That’s a hard one for him. He has always taken care of himself. He was a marathon runner. He was a baseball player known for his speed. And now the speed is gone, there is a cane in his hand, and sometimes one of his legs stays in place while his body continues to move.
I watch him and my heart breaks as I see him trying to learn his limitations. I’m more fortunate. I have always known mine. I watch him as he repeatedly says, “I’ll do it!” and before he finishes the statement someone has done ’it’ for him. Sometimes the pain runs across his face. It’s not a physical pain. It’s the pain of learning that he can’t always do ’it’ like he used to. It is the pain of learning and re-learning. That must be incredibly difficult to have forced on you in the middle of your life.
The doctor has dictated that I stay out of this wheelchair as much as possible. Actually she doesn’t want me ‘sitting’ much of anywhere. She wants me to spend a good portion of the day laying down with my legs elevated. There might be some rewards, for John and I, to being told to stay in bed all day. But I’m having a hard time finding them with a house full of teenagers that want my attention, a big old dog that thinks HE should be in the bed with me, and a cat that thinks, “if the dog can I can too“. I’m really pushing the envelope when I sit here and type my entries, but if I didn‘t sneak up here and get the words down I would probably lay in bed, with my legs in the air, and go slightly mad. The family may argue that I already have, but that’s just because I get a funny look on my face when I am plotting excuses to get the hell out of that bed!
So my friends I am unable to visit all the journals as often as I once did. And I can’t spend the time investigating new ones like I used to. But, God willing and if the creek don’t rise, this too shall pass.