Back in 1986, January 28th to be exact, I came home from school upset. We had watched the Challenger tradgedy on a television a teacher had brought into a classroom, and we watched it over and over and over again. I wanted to talk about the accident, and so sought out my mom when she arrived home from work.
In particular, I wanted to talk about Judith Resnick. She was everything I wanted to be. She had a 1600 on her SATs (I was young, this was very important to me), was an engineer (biomedical, before that was a real major), and had a PhD. She was beautiful. She was musical (a classic pianist) and athletic (a runner). And she was pioneer: an astronaut in a male dominated field.
Everything I aspired to be (minus the astronaut part).
Mom's first words about Resnick were, "What a waste."
I immediately responded, "No, it wasn't a waste. It was a loss. She was doing what she loved to do, how could that be a waste?"
Mom looked at me, surprised, then agreed, yes, it was a loss, but not a waste.
On my way out the door today, I thought about that moment, about how I insisted that dying doing what you loved wasn't a waste. And I can't help but wonder, will I die doing what I love? Will I die playing ultimate? Or hiking? Or reading? Or gardening? Or programming? Or designing?
Will dying doing what I love make the loss any less painful?
Because as near as I can tell, the dying part of the equation? That's the part that sucks.