I’ve always been a little bit scared of space. It’s big and dark and there’s a lot of ideas that I can’t wrap my head around (like black holes). The idea of traveling into the darkness and floating around has been something that has made me anxious. Despite this, I’ve always had an insatiable curiosity to learn more about it. I’ve found comfort in looking through a telescope and studying the moon with all of its canyons and craters, Saturn with the dust and ice that build up its infamous rings and the history of constellations. And the zodiac. Don’t even get me started on how I act when Mercury is retrograde.
Because of these interests I’ve had – in the unknown, mostly – I couldn’t help but smile and feel a deep appreciation when I stumbled upon Fred’s out-of-this-world wish. Just like me, he finds comfort in space. His reasons seem to be much more modest and leave me both humbled and astounded.
Fred, 5, suffers from blackfan anemia, a rare and deadly bone marrow disorder that leaves him fatigued. He spends a lot of his time at the doctor’s office receiving blood transfusions. Space has been something that has taken his mind off of his illness and allows him to feed his inextinguishable sense of wonder.
Maybe you’ve never thought about all of the things that astronauts have to go through during training. It’s a grueling process that’s filled with dozens of medical tests and clearances. To Fred, this training reminds him of his medical experience. Through this obsession with astronauts and space, he’s found tranquility.
For his wish, Fred knew he wanted to see the last shuttle launch of the NASA program. While this day would be bittersweet for the space program, it was a monumental moment in Fred’s life. He spent the day touring the Kennedy Center Visitor Complex, meeting NASA pilots and engineers, receiving his very own spacesuit and helmet and last, but certainly not least, seeing the space shuttle launched into the sky. The day was everything he could have dreamed it would be and more.
Learning about Fred’s wish has reminded me that there are so many beautiful things in this world that we should all be celebrating that often fall to the back burner because of the stress of life. Tonight, when I look up at the sky I’ll be looking a little bit harder than I usually do. Maybe I’ll look at it for a little longer, too, just to be sure to really take in what I’ve recently been taking for granted.
Be sure to read more about Fred's wish at the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana chapter's site!