Saturday, January 22, 2011

25 Years Ago.....

I was six months pregnant with my first born, 25 years ago today. The day began like any other. I was not working then. The only 12 months of my adult life I haven't worked. I started working when I was sixteen years old. Took time off when I was pregnant with Joshua. Went back to work when he was 3 months old. And have never been unemployed since.

There was only one thing on television that day. And I was hooked the minute I turned on the television. I washed, dried and folded clothes in between. But that broadcast would take up my entire day and change my life forever.

And older couple lived behind us in the trailer park we lived in. Mrs. Renner  had made Joshua a handmade crocheted blanket. She brought it over to me that same morning. We sat for about an hour, together, and watched the drama unfold. She left, and I got back to work. And to my television.

To this day, I'm not sure why I was so rooted to the programming that seemed to overtake the nation. I guess because I knew, we all knew, history was in the making. Just how much so, at that point, was yet to be seen.

I think, when you're pregnant, every single sensory cell in your body is kicked into overload capacity. Everything is more. Maximum intensity. Your tears, your joy, your pain and your sorrow. Every emotion is felt, in your bones. Every reaction is instantaneous and without filter.Your internal roots have no boundaries.

Twenty five years ago on January 28, 1986, as the entire nation stood by and watched, the Challenger Space Shuttle was launched. Seventy Three seconds later, it would explode in mid air. All on board were lost.

I watched the entire morning. The interviews with the astronauts. The family's. But this flight, had a special passenger. A civilian passenger, Sharon Christa McAuliffe. The first teacher to ever participate in orbit flight. She had taken a year off from her teaching duties to train. She was selected amongst 11,000 other applicants to participate. The day of the launch was going to be historical. Her entire class of students were present as well as her family. And the family's of every astronaut as well. She had helped the space program receive so much recognition. She was to represent intelligent educators everywhere. One who could explain to children and young adults, in their language, exactly what was going on. To promote the Space Program in a way it had never been promoted before.

I sat in my chair. For hours. In the rocking chair that was bought to rock my newborn baby. Waiting for the  launch. As it ascended into the clouds, I watched. With the entire nation. And 73 seconds later, I sat in disbelief and horror trying to reconcile in my mind what had just happened. Right in front of my face. I can remember immediately making physical contact with my stomach. Both hands went straight to Joshua. As if, in my mind, I needed to protect him or shield him from what I had just seen. I sat there in stunned silence for I do not know how long. In a state of disbelief. That cloud of smoke, that horrible noise of doom, could not have really been what I thought it was. But as they scanned to the faces in the crowd, I knew, without a doubt, it was. The children, bless their hearts, all of them. I knew for many nights to come, parents would be calming nightmares and tears. That the families, of all the astronauts would need professional help and hearts to pull away from the the memory, of the tragedy, that happened right before their very eyes.

To this day, I cannot explain to you the depth of my own pain. How very real it all felt to me. How very personal. I was 22 years old. But a slip of a girl. I was sitting in a chair, prepared to give life. A baby about to give birth to a baby. Carrying a life inside of my body. A life yet to be seen.  While seven lives were taken. In 73 seconds. Never to be seen again. Not a trace. Nothing to bury for comfort. The only memories for the families and Sharons' students, would be in their minds and hearts.  There would be nothing for them to place in a safe place, to rest in peace.

Life is so very fragile. In the literal blink of an eye it can be over. As I worry over my own problems, and pray for my friends and family over theirs, I know how tender we are. How tender and soft our insides can become. It's been 25 years for all of the ones left behind. I pray, they know, the loved ones they lost, did not make their decision easily.  That they did not choose to take that flight in vain. It meant something. All of it. Including the horrible tragedy of the launch. Those seven men and women will always be my Hero's. For they took the biggest chance of all, and I simply sat in my rocking chair. And watched.

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims


  1. Well I say it is High time for a novel..... Can I get an Amen to that????? Debi Drawdy

  2. I too sat there in disbelief ...pregnant with my second baby and home sick with the flu .... remember it vividly and felt just as you did.

  3. So very well told Michelle....Amen!

  4. I remember that day also. It gave me chill bumps then as yours did just now. As always bravo MMM another well told story and thanks for reminding us what we all seem to forget sometimes. There is always hope.