Monday, January 26, 2015

beginnings ended...


Every year on January 28 since 1986, when I see the news broadcasts which replay the Challenger explosion, I think back to where I was when it happened--where I was both physically and emotionally. This has been especially significant to me, over 25 years later, having contact via Facebook with the kindergartener, Nathan Connell, who held my hand that fateful day.

It was Tuesday, January 28, 1986, at 11:38 a.m. 
This was my first day back at school as a teacher of elementary-age 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 via school bus 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…”


 

Dear Beth, You cannot imagine how overcome with emotion I was to read that blog post. I remember that day and I remember it with such clarity. I'm now a physician in Rhode Island, having just finished my internal medicine residency. This summer, I'm starting a fellowship in hematology and oncology so I'll be working in the cancer center here at Brown University's teaching hospitals. Thank you so much for reaching out and thank you for everything you did for me that day and during my time as your student. Keep in touch.—Nathan (Comment via Facebook from Nathan Connell)

 

 Nathan, Thank you so much for your kind words, they mean so much to me...there are those moments in our lives that we do remember with such clarity, probably because of the emotions involved...every year on January 28 when the news programs replay the video of Challenger and ask "Where were you..." I go right back there to Lake Wales, holding your sweet little hand...this year I felt led to write about it on my blog...with your permission, I would like to add your comments above to my blog...you have made wonderfully wise choices with your life, and I know you will be a blessing to the hematology and oncology patients at the cancer center...our lives are so short, no matter how many years we live...blessings, beth (my response via Facebook to Nathan)

Of course, please feel free to use my comments however you wish and again, thank you for everything you've done for me!--Nathan (response via Facebook from Nathan)

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.—I Corinthians 13:12
No, for the Scriptures tell us that for his sake we must be ready to face death at every moment of the day—we are like sheep awaiting slaughter; but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us. For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.—Romans 8:36-39 TLB
Take a few minutes to reflect on this Scripture set to music in this song, Nothing Ever (Could Separate Us) by Citizen Way…

Where were you on January 28, 1986? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I’d love to hear from you!

Linking up with Holley Gerth and Kelly Balarie as an encourager…
 

 

32 comments:

  1. Beth,
    Thank you for sharing your personal story and the reassurance that God is good even if we don't clearly see His ways and purposes at the time.
    Blessings,
    Bev

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    1. Bev, thank you so much for taking time to stop by from over at Kelly's #RaRaLinkup. Many blessings to you :)

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  2. Beth- I remember that day very well and your words took me right back. Such grief leaves us wide open for Him to fill us new. Thanks for sharing your gift here. It always blesses.

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    1. Thank you, Karen, for your encouraging comment...I so agree with you...He does fill us with His precious Holy Spirit and in Him we can truly rest...no matter what.

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  3. Beth, thank you so much for sharing your story here. It is an amazing testament that even though we can't see how our actions affect others at the time, God reaches out through us to comfort others. I love how your student reached out after all those years. Blessed to have you on #RaRaLinkup today. -Abby

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    1. Thank you, Abby. It is such a blessing to get to know such warm and wonderful writers as Kelly has attracted at #RaRaLinkup. Many blessings to you!

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  4. Hi Beth,
    There are certainly moments that become a part of us aren't there. I have a few occasions like that too. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
    Visiting from Holley Gerth link up.

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    1. Anita, thank you so much for stopping by...many blessings to you!

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  5. I don't know why this post just me teary eyed. Probably because I remember the challenger event (we were all in school in Puerto Rico suddenly not understanding what we were seeing on the tv) or probably is because of Nathan's note. Thank you for sharing this personal moment in your life.

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    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. I was very touched by Nathan's note also, precious memories. Many blessings to you!

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  6. Thank you for sharing that! I am friends with my elementary school teacher, so I love seeing you reminisce with him!

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    1. Sarah, I so appreciate you stopping by. Many blessings to you!

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  7. Beth, visiting from Kelly C's Small Wonder link up. Wow. I'd forgotten the Challenger accident was on January 28th, but I definitely cannot forget that day.
    I, too, was in a classroom--this time with First Graders. I was working as an Aide at the time (I'm an Elem. Teacher now, retired) and the other helper in the room was the mother of Christa McAulliffe's back-up--Barbara Morgan. Marion (the mom)and I were good friends and of course we were all wrapped up in the doings as a school. I remember actually hearing about it...now the memory's clearer, on the radio. I remember pulling over in the street in front of a television repair shop and going inside to watch it unfold, tears dripping down my face. What a surreal moment.
    "For now we see through a glass darkly. Indeed."

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    1. Jody, thank you so much for sharing your Challenger memories with me. That's amazing about the Mom of Christa's back-up...so many people were affected in so many ways...many blessings to you ❤️

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  8. What a cool story about Nathan! My youngest daughter began her teaching career this year, and just today I volunteered in her classroom of Kindergartners, all so innocent even though they've already been exposed to many things I wouldn't have dreamed of at their age. But it's encouraging to read hear that your former student is now doing so well. I remember that fateful day as well; my daughter was celebrating her birthday that morning so we tried to keep the news to ourselves and only watch the TV in the bedroom as it all unfolded.

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    1. Lisa, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your Challenger memories with me...many blessings to you ❤️

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  9. How wonderful that you've reconnected with Nathan, Beth, and that you both have strong memories from that day. I was still in high school and I remember we were all watching the launch on TV since a teacher from our neighboring state was going it to space. It was such a big deal, and such a tragedy. But as with all tragedies, there are inspiring stories of redemption. Have a blessed week!

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    1. Thank you, Joan. I so appreciate your comments...many blessings to you ❤️

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  10. I remember the day, we watched it at school and it was just awful. I showed it to my children this morning and told them what I remembered of that day. So sad for the families that were watching as it happened.

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    1. Rashel, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing that with me. Many blessings to you and your family ❤️

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  11. Thank you for sharing your story. I remember that day. I was a junior in high school and we were home due to a rare Georgia snow day. I remember watching the rocket launch and then the explosion. It was such an exciting event that ended so quickly and unexpectedly in tragedy. We never know when the Lord will call us home.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I so agree with you...we must be grateful for every breath and every heartbeat. Many blessings to you.

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  12. was in highschool history class when we were to watch the rocket take off but something terrible went wrong, the terrible explosion that day I saw a fierce man shed a tear and went home and saw my mother crying as well.

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    1. Angie, thank you for sharing that with me. It was such an emotional event, we remember it so well. Many blessings to you.

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  13. Beth, having grown up in Florida during the early years of our country's space industry (my dad worked at the Cape), I remember many times standing in our yard watching those first manned flights. I don't remember exactly where I was when Challenger exploded, but I do remember the sadness and knowing how it would affect my dad.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by. It truly was one of those moments we will never forget. Many blessings to you.

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  14. How wonderful Nathan reached out to you years later! I cannot imagine seeing the explosion first-hand. I remember watching it live on television but not until I witnessed a launch in person at the Cape years later, could I get the true feel of the power and intensity. What an impression the Challenger tragedy must have left on you both!

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    1. Carrie, I so agree with you, it was such a blessing to be in touch with Nathan again. Thank you for sharing your memories with me. Many blessings to you.

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  15. Your words reach my heart on so many levels. Beginnings and endings. Thank you for bringing us into your memory of that sad day.

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    1. Michele, I so appreciate your kind words...you are a wonderful encourager to me and so many others. Many blessings to you!

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  16. What a lovely story of keeping in touch. It would have been something to watch launches live but not that one. We heard about it and were very sad.
    Blessings,
    janis

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    1. Janis, thank you for your kind comments. It is such a blessing to me to be in touch with Nathan again. Many blessings to you.

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