If I thought I had enough work to do this week getting ready for a reading/signing at Borders Books in Boise this Saturday (2 p.m.), it could have been much, much busier, starting today. I could have been launching off to the outer reaches for a 14-day marathon writing assignment.
My application for the "Teacher in Space" program, penned approximately 22 years ago, suggested an Erma Bombeck approach to reporting the events happening inside that space capsule as it circled the Globe and as my fellow astronauts completed their experiments. I remember the hours spent writing 6-8 essays to complete the rigorous application. Had I been on the Endeavour today, the world below would be reading "Love Notes from Space."
It was not to be. I don't know where I ended up in the Idaho competition. I do know, however, as we all do, that Barbara Morgan of McCall got the nod. I also recall that a few weeks later, someone who had served on the Idaho selection panel sent me a note telling me how much she (can't remember her name now) enjoyed my writing and my essays. At least, they were noticed. I was mildly disappointed at not being selected because the incredible possibilities and because of the work involved in the application, but life went on.
And, the fact that life went on proved to be a blessing, as we all have known for the past 21 years after the Challenger disaster of Jan. 28, 1986 which remains so etched in all our minds. I remember vividly that morning when a student from the Sandpoint High School library walked into my room with a stunned look on her face and the announcement "Mrs. Love, we're so glad you did not get selected as the Teacher in Space. The Challenger just exploded." She led me to the library where I stood transfixed for several minutes in disbelief.
Since that time, I've visited the Johnson Space Center with my family, and somewhere among the boxes we moved last summer are pictures of astronauts, including that Challenger team and at least one of Barbara Morgan. I brought those home from my space center visit. My essays about "Love Notes in Space" are packed away too.
I've not spent a lot of time thinking about what might have been, but today I must admit to feeling a certain connection with Mrs. Morgan. We all started out together here in Idaho with a dream of shooting for the stars. Barbara Morgan will see those stars today, and I'm sure she'll report a few of her own "Love Notes from Space."
As she does, we in Idaho can be proud that one of our Potatoheads made it to the big time, to the final frontier. And, I'm sure all of us will say a little prayer that this Teacher in Space makes it to that final frontier and back home to Idaho, safe and sound. God be with you, Barbara.