She's Home -
"At 5:57 am EST, Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down on Runway 15 on July 21. After 200 orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,284,862 miles, the landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida brought to a close 30 years of space shuttle flights." ~ NASA
This morning was so beautiful. It was sweet and special and as we held our breath in anticipation with out-of-towners and people who've lived and breathed Space Age, I stood next to my Momma, and watched as Atlantis flew home, dropping out of the sky at a speed so fast, you had to pinpoint her almost immediately.
It was beautiful and fittingly so. Because this is my life. She and Columbia, Discovery and Endeavour (and Challenger, indirectly) have been my life for all my 23 years. Space Age and Space Station Program has been the air I've lived and breathed since I was born.
It was a perfect moment, and in all the struggling and hurt and anguish and disappointment between watching her go up, and waiting for her to come home ..... JOY was supreme and PRIDE ruled over to watch her glide into her Homeland and her Home. Here with us. With those that love her the best.
Momma and I stayed there at the docks as night turned to dawn, and dawn flowed like a dream into sunrise. Dolphins quietly surfaced, drawing "oohs" and "awws", and Manatees showed up to surface as well, their air bubbles following them, and the seagulls began to fly over the Indian River.
She had drawn cheers from me, and from all of us as she coasted into landing. The pier rang with our joyful exultation, and clapping. My heart won't ever forget the sight of her flying in so perfectly, wings in full view, a seemingly tiny figure, but in detail enough to know her well.
After the dawn, the sun began to open up her eyes and began to pour her color all upon the water, the sharing began. Everything from showing each other pictures on cameras, to listening quietly to the live audio feed on the iphones from NASA, to taking each other's pictures, to latecomers taking pictures of the live iphone feed, to talking about past landings and launches, to just lingering there. Not wanting to leave. Staying in the moment. Being near.
I don't think it could have been more perfect or amazing. I was so so blessed.
It was so peaceful and beautiful in a way I never ever expected. Today, what I anticipated as being such a horrible day for me, God graciously turned into one of the most joyously-deep moments of my life, to tuck this last memory into a treasure trove of Space memories.
God has been good, and kept our men and women safe. He has preserved us, and always will. His love with never fail us, and His plans for us are farther than we can go in space, or ever will go. He loves us more than all Earth and Space and Moon and Sun. He will do great things!
and She is Home, here. She is Home to stay.
I am Home here. I am Home in the Lord. Home in the Lord always to stay.
Welcome Home, Atlantis. You will hold a place in my heart forever that nothing can touch. You and Discovery, Endeavour, Columbia, and Challenger and all my NASA family. I salute you in pride and hold you forever in my heart with joy.
~ Jean Marie ~