81: Under a Lucky Star

81: Under a Lucky Star

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

Under a Lucky Star

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars.

~Henry van Dyke

My husband Richard startled me while I daydreamed on the patio of our new home. He stood in front of me holding his cellphone, the color drained from his face.

“It’s Bob,” he said handing me the phone.

I thought it odd that Bob, the real estate agent we’d enlisted to sell the home we’d recently moved out of, would be calling. A few weeks ago he’d brought us a buyer and we signed a contract. We were three days from the closing. With such a short window of time, Richard and I had agreed we were comfortable moving to a new home a few hundred miles away.

“Hello,” I croaked.

“I have some bad news. The sale is off. The buyer lost his job.”

My knees buckled. I slipped down into the one chair that had found its way outside. With the phone still to my ear, I looked through the window to see Richard standing among the bustle of moving men and boxes. Stunned, he could no longer give them directions.

One of the moving men placed his hand on Richard’s shoulder.

“Don’t worry, man. It’ll all work out. Where do you want this picture?”

Speechless, Richard pointed to the last empty spot in the corner of the living room.

The timing had seemed perfect to make a move to a calmer, less stressful place for the next phase of our lives. My job of fifteen years had been eliminated and Richard had decided to retire. Our move to the Space Coast of Florida, however, had suddenly turned into the most impulsive decision of our married life. We had been here less than twenty-four hours and suddenly found ourselves in the center of a crisis.

During the next week Richard and I emptied the moving boxes and tried to get the house in order. We barely spoke except to remind each other of the new phone number or ask for directions to the grocery store. Our dream had quickly turned into an emotional and financial drain. Nothing about this new place brought us any comfort.

One night, my mind racing with worry, I’d only just fallen asleep. A roaring, thunderous noise jolted me awake. The house shook. The windows rattled. The clock read 4:34 a.m. Scared half out of my mind, I had no idea what could possibly be happening. I elbowed Richard and urged him to go check all the doors while I tried to calm our barking dog. Richard reported nothing was out of place and crawled back under the covers. The noise faded. I slept fitfully the rest of the night.

In the morning, I ate breakfast in front of the television, watching the morning news.

“Last night a Delta II rocket carrying a military satellite successfully launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,” the newscaster reported.

“So that’s what woke us up,” I commented.

“Does that happen a lot?” Richard asked. “Did you know about this before we decided to move here?”

“I guess the shuttle isn’t the only thing that gets sent up into space,” I replied through a mouthful of cereal. “Satellites have to get up there somehow.”

Richard handed me the front page of the morning paper.

“If we can hear it, do you think we can see it?” he asked.

A picture of the rocket at the moment of liftoff took up more than half the page. A column to the left of it was headlined “Upcoming Space Missions.”

“Look, Richard. The paper tells when the next launch is.”

“Really?” He grabbed the paper back from me.

He had a smile on his face for the first time since the devastating phone call from Bob.

“Mark it on the calendar. I want to see it,” he said.

A few weeks later, I struggled to stay awake for the midnight launch of an Atlas V rocket. My eyelids refused to stay open while Richard snored on the sofa. When the earth-shattering rattle began, I nudged him awake before racing outside. A bright orange ball blazed up from the horizon, lighting up the black of night.

“Richard! Come quick!” I shouted.

We stood side by side, our mouths hanging open, watching the puffy white plume race across the dark sky.

My pride in our nation and our ability to explore space had been instilled in me from an early age. While in elementary school, when space flight was still new, I remember my class being ushered into the auditorium to watch the Mercury rocket launches on a tiny black and white television. As a child, the liftoff was incredibly exciting even though I was too young to understand the magnitude of its importance.

But watching it live from my back yard sent me over the moon, no pun intended! My pride in America and its accomplishments in space flooded through me. Unable to take my eyes off the sky, I followed the ball of light high into the atmosphere until it finally disappeared.

A few weeks later, the Space Shuttle Atlantis was scheduled to go up in the afternoon. I poured a glass of wine and made a plate of cheese and crackers. Richard and I settled on the patio to watch. With our eyes fixed on the general area of the launch, we waited.

The rumble started. The ground began to shake. The roar of the engines grew louder and louder, reaching a fevered pitch. In the distance a brilliant, bright ball of light appeared over the tops of the palm trees. The two of us sat in silence absorbing the fascinating spectacle of light and sound.

“Amazing! What a way to spend an afternoon.” I raised my glass in a toast toward the sky.

The only word Richard could say was, “Incredible.”

All things space became a part of our lives. We never missed a launch no matter the hour of day or night. I’d let out a sigh of relief when a sonic boom announced a shuttle returning to earth. At dusk, we once caught a glimpse of the International Space Station passing overhead. And when the shuttle program ended, we waved goodbye as the plane transporting it to a new home flew low along the coastline.

Space flight uncovered a deep sense of pride in our country. It allowed us to find contentment in a community full of people committed to American technology. And most importantly we realized we had found a home in a place that presented us with new and extraordinary experiences unlike anywhere else.

Our old house finally sold to a new buyer. I found a great job I enjoyed. Richard settled into a peaceful retirement riding his bike and walking the dog. And every time a rocket launched into space, we watched in awe, never missing the chance to thank our lucky stars for finding such an inspiring new home in which to live and dream.

~Linda C. Wright

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