Challenger: 25 years later

Twenty five years ago today I was in the seventh and eighth grade chorus class, wishing I was in study hall, so I could watch the shuttle launch instead.  I think our director was auditioning folks for solos, but, regardless, it was the kind of day when I could sort of stand in the doorway and try to listen to the broadcast from the room down the hall. 

I was there, standing in the door of my classroom, when a couple of adults stuck their heads out of their classrooms and said to each other something akin to “did you see that?  Did that really just happen?” 

I don’t think they saw me.  I don’t think I said anything to my classmates.  I don’t know who told them, but within a few minutes someone was wheeling a TV cart into our class so we could watch the replay.  The hall was silent except for when a door openned every once in a while, and then I could hear crying.  I just kept hovering in our classroom doorway, probably sort of blocking traffic, not that there was any.  I don’t remember anything about what my teacher did or did not do, but I’m sure that Mr Shapiro, our totally awesome Principal (he warrants a capital P) came on and said something good over the loud speaker. 

I don’t remember anyone checking in with me on what I was feeling, or how I was dealing with it.  (I’ve always been a big NASA fan, and was really excited about the new ‘teacher in space’ thing, and was hoping it was going to move space science into the fore of my science education.  That didn’t happen.  Talk about a blown legacy.) 

A friend of mine who DID watch the launch and subsequent explosion live says that she still can’t watch a replay of it without tearing up. 

I’m just wondering how this day would have played out for me had I been a homeschooler at the time.  I would almost certainly have been watching it live.  I very likely would have been studying more space science stuff on my own, since I loved it so much (and, since this is *my* daydream, I can pretend that my parents would have been encouraging my interests).  I likely would have been watching it with my mother, and she likely would have cried too, and then folded me into her arms.  We probably would have cried together, watching, talking and trying to understand, and maybe sharing some chocolate. 

I don’t think I got any of that though. 

I’m sure we talked about it that night at home, but I don’t think we watched President Reagan talk on TV that night, although his speech reads, to me as an adult, like it might have helped put the tragedy in context for me some, and might have actually helped. 

I, like most folks of my generation, can look  at a picture of the dividing contrails of the split parts of the shuttle, and ID the shot of being of the disaster in an instant.  I, obviously, know where I was when it happened. 

I just don’t remember being given any support in dealing with it.

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