Born on the Fourth of July

He loved all the fireworks.

Great memories of watching his joy in having lots to send toward the stars.

My daughter leaves in the morning, winging her way back home, after briefly being South for the service of her Uncle; a year plus one day since the last service for her brother.

May your day be filled with joy as you celebrate our great country

Watching and listening to the breathing of a person who has been in your life since 1950, is a silent vigil of wishing for death to come quickly; wishing that this strong marine of WWII could finish his life with the dignity in which he lived his life. Wishing for many things.

He would not want to live this way. His life was one of always working; always “piddling” around; his hands always building.

We watch in respectful silence with our own thoughts. It was a day of strokes and then the fall at the end, hitting his head on the hard tile floor. His will to walk to the bathroom; his mind remembering the pattern etched in his brain; his will to do things on his own terms; his own way.

Almost twenty four hours and yet he sleeps without food or water. Has his body begun the process of shutting down? Will he wake soon and continue trying to live a life already well lived? There is no answer.

Memories of another time, another place, not so long ago, come rushing back without bidding. A young life leaving this earth a much smaller place just as this leaving will force a deep look into what is important and what spaces will have to be filled as the gap narrows between this life and the next.

Are there parallel worlds?

Perhaps God or the Universe could turn the coin over, perhaps.

The new plan would solve some of the ongoing problems, namely grief, sorrow and dying.

Perhaps we could be born on the day we die and live life in reverse, thereby slipping quietly away at the end of our days.

We would be wise when born or have Alzheimer’s when born and live backwards to regain our memories, and become a child again with our faculties intact until we are back to the days of not knowing which is the same as what happens with having Alzheimer’s except there is no joy in watching this happen whereas there is joy in watching a child learn.

Reading the above makes no sense because in the end it is both the same. Sorrow comes at all stages of life and perhaps we grow in exponential ways not known until the event happens and we get past the why’s and what if’s, the deep painful grief, the eternal sorrow.

Is there, perhaps, a parallel world? Is there a place in space, not yet found, where life is lived in a more humane way? Is there a place where there are no politicians? Would we be happy without conflict or is conflict what our human race thrives on? It seems that, as I draw near the end of life, this planet is coming apart from all the divisiveness among the inhabitants of our universe.

Does Bezos, Elon, NASA or others have the answer? Not in my opinion, however I could be wrong.

Our brightest and best seem to be leaving this earth through death going to that place we hope is there but only knowing this through faith.

Freddie seemed at peace. I was not at peace with him leaving, however, that could be a selfish view. He had so many gifts yet to give. This is a very common feeling, I think. We seem Never to be prepared fully for the actual event to happen.

I watched my Mother and now my brother-in-law disappear into that black hole of not knowing. Is that better than knowing? Who can answer that question?

Is there a parallel world? When we die what really happens? Do we have a soul that waits to reunite with a healthy body at a resurrection foretold in the Bible? Or, does the soul hang out with those left behind to bring them comfort? Or is there a parallel Universe where they all gather to watch what we, on earth, are doing?

Questions I wonder about as I search for meaning or a reason to go forward in this world.

Do you know?

Freddie’s Memorial Scholarship

Hi All,

It is my wish that you are well and having a great spring/summer!

I spent a lot of time trying to decide how/what I could do to memorialize Freddie in the space community. Finally, I made a decision. I hope you think it was a good one.

Here is a link to the Memorial Scholarship in Freddie’s name at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.

Freddie loved going to this special place and this Scholarship​ is funded​ for 5 years.

​One child will be chosen to attend Space Camp each year.
​The child must be in Middle School, need the money for tuition, apply to Freddie’s Foundation to receive the necessary funds to attend Space Camp for a week during the July 4th time…Freddie’s birthday being July 4.
The ​chosen​ child may be any color, from any country and any gender. The only criteria requested that they display an entrepreneurial spirit and other characteristics that Freddie ​was known for during his lifetime.

Thank you if you can give even a small amount. A child will appreciate your kindness and will learn that dreams can come true. Hopefully, they will also learn that Space is the future for the survival of mankind…a concept that Freddie believed. He dreamed an impossible dream; he started with nothing but an idea and that idea spread throughout the worlds of many. I hope another child can dream that dream as well.

Thank you,
Linda Bourgeois

give me strength not to scream

Freddie was a handicapped child from birth. That is an established fact. Did we treat him as such? No. He was treated as if he were normal, whatever that means. Did this comfort me that I had been singled out by a God who thought I had special strength to bear this burden? I did not feel privileged; neither did I understand why God had chosen me for this task. Every year thousands of families have children born with a handicap…I wonder if they understand why and feel privileged.

Freddie was bullied in school yet he rose above that and became more than the bullies would ever become. He made a choice to live his life in a way that set him apart from not only his family but also his friends. I doubt anyone truly understood him, his talents, his moods and his depression. I did not, however I did accept and love him unconditionally. So many days now I have tried to live my life backward to try to unlock the mystery called Freddie.

Well meaning persons have said to me things like I know this is painful for you but you will get through it because God never sends more than you can bear. He knows your strength; and my mind is inwardly screaming.: If only I were a weaker person Freddie would still be alive.

Perhaps there is another view or another question that needs to be asked. Take God out of the equation. Intellectually we know that we all die. We all want to believe that there is a better place, another world where all suffering and pain ends and we are made whole again. Is there a world like this? We hope so, but there is no living person who knows the absolute reality of this hope and where this other world is. Perhaps it is in another galaxy. Perhaps it is in the air around us, a flower, a butterfly, a cardinal, an Alaskan Husky.

Here is what we do know. The physical body dies and decays after death. I believe that each of us have a unique soul that is not a physical part of us and cannot die. What does this soul look like? I do not know. Do they look like our loved ones? I do not know. Will we recognize each other? Will we be the same age? Where are all these souls? Do they just hangout waiting for the resurrection or do they go immediately to heaven? And where is heaven?

I want to ask Delta if I can purchase a ticket to Heaven. I have not finished my conversations with Freddie

God does not cause all these bad things to happen to us nor does he single us out. I think he stands ready to help us cope but first we have to move beyond all the anger, guilt and rage before He can help us. We have to stop asking “Why, God, did you do this to my beloved son? How could you be so cruel?”

I will keep reading. Meditating. Talking to the universe. Hugging trees. Planting flowers. Watching cardinals and butterflies. Watching for the white feathers as signs that angels are near and maybe one day I can live among the world of people again. I do not know. I have not decided or chosen a path as yet.

ars moriendi

The Art of Dying was simple at one time, in the long history of man. You were born, you lived, you died and this was the accepted course of your life. Medical doctors were sparse and medications were few. Solutions were not readily available foe whatever might ail you. Granted some people did not live long lives, however, their lives were lived within the family unit and their life had purpose until the end. Was there fear? yes. Was there pain? yes, however, most were stoic in managing to keep their pain to themselves to “spare” their loved ones.

In the medieval version, which was published in Latin, people thought death “should be accepted stoically, without fear of-or self-pity or hope for anything more.” Other matters to attend to were asking God for forgiveness, reaffirming one’s faith, repenting one’s sins and letting go of one’s worldly possessions and desires were crucial. The families were advised to pray and to ask questions of the dying so that they would be in the right frame of mind when death arrived. Last words, according to The Art of Dying, were precious and were words of reverence to hold in the sacred places of your heart.

Is this the way we approach death today? No. The main prescription, when given a diagnosis of a terminal illness, is lots of options with the main one being Hope. Doctors Hope that one of the options will extend your life and many have extended lives for years, however the end is always the same The years left after a terminal diagnosis could be better charted, in my opinion, if the patient were asked certain questions by a very sensitive, experienced person in hospice care. The questions to be answered by the patient, according to Dr. Gould as written in Being Mortal by Atul Gawande are:

  1. Do you want to be resuscitated?
  2. Do you want aggressive treatments such as intubation and mechanical ventilation?
  3. Do you want antibiotics?
  4. Do you want tube or intravenous feeding if you can’t eat on your own?

Having an advanced directive makes it easier for everyone, even though having one does not mean that Hope has been abandoned. Yet, without the answers to these questions the family may not know what you would want for your life and chaos can cost minutes of time that could have been spent saying “I love you” and saying goodbye.

There are so many differing opinions on this subject and so much information “out there” that it is difficult to plow through the research and find what will work for you. Yet, in the end, after all the clinical trials, the “options”, when they all run out, will you ask yourself if the quantity of time you spent with your loved one and the pain endured was worth all the “options” pursued or would you rather have spent quality time at the end and lived each minute in the moment?

Turning the page

The page turns and the pencil begins to write the last chapter. There are more pages written than there are to be written. Time has dwindled down to a few pages and writing those pages will not be an easy task.

What should be written on those pages? poetry? a book? thoughts? songs? wishes? hopes? dreams lost? So many choices. How will the holder of the pencil choose? Will the Universe be kind?

Life began to end at birth and the pencil began to write on the blank pages. The good, the not so good. Choices made; missed opportunities. Life is one long road traveled and for everyone the ending is the same: death. It is when the last pages are being written that the review begins and life winds down to end with no breath left and as one book states: “When Breath becomes Air”… and time is up.

Many seem to lead charmed lives. Others wonder why “bad things happen to good people”, once again a title of another book, however, it does shed some light on the why’s. There was no one there to try to answer that question without quoting God and God had nothing to do with any of this. It all happened, both good and bad because of choices made. Sometimes God wept. “Being Mortal” means both joy and suffering. It is how suffering is handled that shapes our being and shines light on how that life was lived.

So, the page is slowing turning; turning to write the last chapter. The pencil is sharpened, the road is clear; the end is near.

The bits and pieces of life, as usual, will be left…the bits and pieces now without meaning.