THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 183
…If there is a dry eye in the house, good luck finding one…
If there is a dry eye in the house, good luck finding one. Even among NASA critics, closet detractors or flat-out opponents who are there only to be dutifully seen, the moment captures their humanity. What heart can be hardened against the thought of a husband and wife doomed to die a slow death on the expansive plain of a planet millions of miles away.
“I never had the chance to meet Celeste McKinney and I am not a mother, but I can tell you this much; the bravery required to sacrifice your life for the furthering of the greater good speaks volumes of her character.” Francine Bouchette-Crippen speaks the female voice. “As a news anchor, I poured over hours of video regarding the McKinneys and what that video revealed to me was that two people shared the same dream; the dream of a planet that longs to experience what the Hubble Space Telescope brought to our device screens, from 3×5 to 80” diagonal.
“In her own words, I hear loud and clear, Celeste McKinney speaks to reaching out into the solar system, not just to secure the natural resources we so desperately need, but also strive to answer the irksome questions about whether we are alone as intelligent beings. She speaks to the dreams of her beloved Deke & Gus, to follow in the wake of their travels outside Earth’s atmosphere, past our Moon, and out to the Andromeda Galaxy.”
Francine begins to break down, a side of her few have seen in public. She uses the eerie silence to gather herself and pause for effect, “And tomorrow is Mother’s Day.”
She summons the strength to continue.
“I have been robbed of the opportunity to meet these two fine explorers, but with my time spent at around the people who love them and the precious moments I have shared with Deke & Gus, their fine character and lofty aspirations, I am so very proud to be part of their lives and legacy.”
She weeps as she backs away from the podium, the sad pedestal overlooking two huge portraits, the empty flag-draped caskets – topped with a sign made by Gus.