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Remembering…shared space

It was 26 years ago today the space shuttle Challenger blew up. My cousins work at Kennedy Space Center and tell stories of ushering astronauts’ family members into a room to explain what they had just witnessed: their lives destroyed by a NASA disaster.

On that same day my husband and I flew to Minnesota where he would receive state-of –the art treatment for his stage 2 cancer. When a friend arrived to drive us to the airport, she could only gasp, “Isn’t it awful?! They’re all dead!” Not having heard, she had to tell us about the Challenger.

It made perfect sense to us – our world, too, was exploding with a health disaster and to try to live normally, made no sense. When a grocery store clerk in Minnesota said to me, ”Have a nice day!” I wanted to scream at her.

We share our public disasters within our community: a community of neighbors, a state or a nation – such as 9/11. But each day so many people carry grief and fear from their own personal disasters and tragedies. Many of these people and their pain go unnoticed or dismissed.

At Mass tonight we were reminded of how to care for each other: Show up, slow down, breatheeeeeee, pay attention, and love the best you can. When we do, we can walk with each other in times of challenge.

(S-R archives photo)

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About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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