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“When you wish upon a space station
Not a star but man’s creation
Though your wish cannot come true
Life still goes on.”

I remember the time that I received a phone call from my mother several years back.

“You’ll never guess what’s passing overhead tonight”, she said excitedly.

I did not have to guess.I immediately knew what she was referring to.

We had both witnessed this already.

The space station was doing a fly by over the night skies.

It was last not that long ago during my visit to Vermont to see my step-father Jim for the last time. He was in his final days after a long struggle with cancer. My mother and I had spent the day at The Respite House, keeping him company, watching T.V., laughing, loving.

The evening news reported that the night sky would be very clear allowing us to view the space station that would be passing by overhead at around 8:00 p.m.

After Jim did a double check on the computer verifying the information, the possibility of being able to see it became a reality.

Seeing as Jim’s bed in the Respite House was situated right next to an enormous window with a clear view of the night sky we settled in for an exciting show, compliments of NASA.

Then darkness began to fall…

For almost an hour, I sat on Jim’s left side of the bed, while mother sat on the right side. While I held his left hand, she held his right. In the darkened room, lit only by the moon, we murmured excitedly in whispers as we waited and gazed out his window.

In the distance came a bright light, too fast and too dim for an airplane, but just right for an orbiting space station. It floated right along the trajectory that had been promised by the news station.

Had I been a child, I would have thought it a shooting star, but it was not. And as an adult, it would have been easy to pretend that Jim was not dying, but he was.

And such is life.

It was another object lesson in that there are times in life when you just can’t pretend things away anymore.

And so… back to me talking to Mother on the phone:

“You are going to watch the space station fly by?” I asked her.

“I don’t know,” she replied in a voice that hinted of the familiar sadness that had inflected her speech since Jim’s death.

“Go, see it,” I urged her…. “I would!”

Now, as I think back to that conversation with Mother, I realize that I had misspoken. I was only pretending that I would have gone out to view the space station as it once again passed through the Vermont skies.

The memories of my last sighting of the space station with Jim and Mother would have made this sighting far too emotional for me.

I would have never been able to see the space station through the tears.

 

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