beth willis miller, M.Ed., author of Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ with Illustrator, Krista Hamrick; contributing author of Under His Wings: Truths to Heal Adopted Children's Hearts; 21 Stories of Generosity: Real Stories to Inspire a Full Life; A New Song: Glimpses of the Grace Journey; married with two adult children, and two adorable grandsons.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Challenger explosion 1-28-86 at 11:38 a.m.
It was Tuesday, January 28, 1986, at 11:38 a.m. This was my first day back at school as a teacher of children in the gifted education program since having a miscarriage at 10 weeks gestation one week before.
Our little school building, the East Area Alpha Center, was located high on a ridge in Lake Wales, Florida. Tuesdays were the days that all the kindergarten and first grade students in the gifted program from Davenport all the way down the ridge to Frostproof were brought to our little center in Lake Wales to participate in a creative and critical thinking curriculum.
I took the hand of Nathan Connell, a bright-eyed, brown-haired kindergartener who was wise beyond his years. I was wearing my London Fog trench coat with the lining zipped in on this unusually cold Florida morning. We joined the 45 other students and two other teachers out on the lawn of the school and we all were looking up. The sky was a brilliant cerulean blue. We watched Challenger rise into the sky, the bright orange glow of its rockets and white plume of smoke below the orange glow.
Suddenly, as Nathan and I held hands and watched, the orange glow exploded and the white plumes of smoke were diverging vertically from above the orange glow. It was unlike any shuttle launch we had seen before, was it a second stage rocket booster?
I looked down at Nathan’s knowing expression with his eyes glued to the Challenger and he said, “I hope the astronauts had parachutes.” We were outside, we had no TV or radio announcer to provide commentary. But Nathan knew. The glorious beginning had ended.
I wrote in my journal that evening…“I feel empty…beginnings ended…nerve endings of emotion…raw, open, exposed…longings of my heart…reaching out, vulnerable…soft to the touch…aching need, grieving for what is lost, for what could have been…”