Thoughtful Thursday: Stars

January 13, 2011

Thoughtful ThursdayRelated to our prior discussions about balancing different parts of your life, and about making hard choices…

I can’t stop thinking about Mark Kelly. Most people are probably thinking more about his critically wounded wife Gabrielle Giffords, or perhaps some of the deceased like Judge John Roll or little Christina-Taylor Green, but I’m stuck on Commander Kelly.

He was about to live something probably beyond his wildest childhood imaginings: not only commanding the very last Space Shuttle mission, but spending time in space with his astronaut twin brother. Twins! In space together!

Now, depending on his wife’s condition, he may not go.

Not only are what may be the best and the worst events of his life happening almost simultanously, but the worst event may preclude the best.

How do you begin to choose between caring for the person you love most and following your wildest dream?

The advice that people would often give in a similar situation, “You can fulfill your dream next time,” doesn’t apply. This is the last Space Shuttle mission.

Then again, his wife is gravely injured.

But his twin brother…

My heart goes out to all of the victims and their families, but particularly to the man whose grief and whose choices are so under scrutiny right now.

Choose your own Thoughtful Thursday:
When your heart is pulled in multiple directions, how do you begin to make your choice?


Which aspect of the tragedy in Arizona has stuck with you the most?


13 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Stars”

  1. Ana Says:

    Somewhat ashamed to say that I didn’t know about this aspect of the story, thanks for posting it. I’ll answer your first question (the second, I don’t want to dwell on). It won’t be a good answer because there are NO good answers. I’d have to consider my priorities and what would cause the most regret or guilt. Thankfully I haven’t been in such a difficult position before, and hope never to be (I can’t imagine anything as or more important than my family right now). In situations of life-or-death for a family member, your mind is 100% going to be with them, no matter what you are doing, so why not save yourself the regret & guilt and just BE with them. I would suspect that if Mark Kelly decided to go on the mission, he would still be miserable, thinking about his wife, and worrying about what he might be missing. I don’t think that his psychological state at this time would be appropriate for commanding a space mission, to be honest.

  2. jill Says:

    I didn’t know about Mark Kelly’s situation. That is horrible on so many levels. Now that I know about it, I think that will be the story that sticks with me most. I hope he decides to go – if I were his wife, I would want him to. And if he does, I hope he can withstand the amount of judgement that will come flying his way. So sad.

    I really have no strategy for making decisions. I just take each situation as it comes and think about feelings of others, myself, and short term / long term effects.

  3. a Says:

    Like Jill, I really have no strategy for dealing with those sort of momentous decisions. I just try to make the best decision I can under the circumstances.

    As for Mark Kelly, I knew he was an astronaut, but not that he was leading a space mission. I don’t envy him his decision. If I were in Giffords’ position, I don’t know if I would feel worse to be left at this critical stage or if I would feel guilty for holding him back.

    The story that sticks with me is, of course, sympathy for Christina Taylor Green’s family, but also for the neighbor who took her to the rally and survived. I don’t watch the news very much, so I haven’t heard about the rest of the victims. It’s tragic all around.

  4. emk808 Says:

    First off, is this really the *last* space shuttle mission? Meaning they’re never sending anything into space ever again? I dunno…I’m sure they’ll probably send people up again. But anyways…

    When I need to make a tough decision, I weigh out the likelihood of each opportunity happening again and also where I’m needed the most. In Commander Kelly’s position, the likelihood of him having the chance to go into space with his twin again is quite unlikely. Obviously he wants to spend as much time with his wife as possible, but if she’s not responsive and doesn’t know that he’s there then he could say his goodbyes and go on the mission. (I have no idea about her condition, I’m just speculating.) If her condition could go either way and she is responsive, then I would still go on the mission and pray that she’s alive when he gets back. If his wife is talking, then I would ask her what she wants him to do. It’s an awfully difficult decision, but he can say his goodbyes to her before he leaves and maybe then can set up a video chat so he can see her while he’s on the mission??

  5. emk808 Says:

    I’m really out of the loop here…I just looked him up and it was his wife that they were trying to assassinate. Good golly! Anyways, it looks like she’s not in any immediate danger at the moment, and she even opened her eyes! The mission is also not for several months, so by then hopefully she’ll be doing lots better and Commander Kelly should be able to go on his mission.

  6. Tara (TIMO) Says:

    Thank you for approaching this subject. You’re the first (non-political) blog that I read that has even mentioned it happening.

    I lived in Tucson for 3.5 years. I met Congresswoman Giffords at several Air Force functions. Nav and I are still in shock that this happened. We lived at the diagonal opposite side of town. You couldn’t get much further from that intersection. It was nearly an hour drive away yet I drove through it a minimum of weekly for 1.5 years and 2-3 times a week for over a year going back and forth between our house and my workplace with a stop to run errands or go to the doctor’s in between (our RE being on of those stops). Had I kept my original job in Tucson I would have gone through that intersection twice a day M-F because the office relocated to a few blocks north shortly after I left. That’s the part that still sticks with me. I could have easily been on a lunch break at that Safeway.

    My heart really goes out to Commander Kelly. Here he is about to fulfill his dream, that which he has trained for for years. We have an Air Force friend trying to get into the space program. There are hundreds of small steps to make that happen. To get where Commander Kelly is, about to command the last mission to space to be with his twin brother, has been a lifetime of dedication on his part. He and Congresswoman Giffords have put their marriage on the back-burner so that both of them can have fulfilling careers. They spend only a few weeks out of a year together. Weeks.

    While I think she would be proud and understanding if he chose to go, I keep coming back to it was his voice that she opened her eyes to. It was his wedding ring she reached out to touch. As wonderfully and amazingly as she is doing right now, she still has a long road ahead of her. I can’t imagine her not doing it with him at her side. But at the same time, it seems as though she’s a strong enough person that she would be able to do it alone (or with other family members cheering her on) knowing he was fulfilling his dream. It’s a difficult decision for sure.

    The mission is slated for April 1 but I don’t know if NASA would/could delay. I also wonder what the deadline is for him to make a decision. I keep hoping there is a chance that she gets well enough in time so that he could ask her opinion.

    Sorry this got so long.

  7. Cat Says:

    With no-win situations, I tend to go with whatever decision I think I’ll regret least later. Would Mark Kelly most regret not being there if his wife dies or missing the space shuttle flight? Only he knows. Unfortunately he’ll probably be flogged by the media no matter which he chooses.

    What a tough place to be. I’ll be wondering about Mr. Kelly now. What I think about most is why all the other shootings in this country don’t garner this kind of attention, outrage, and action.

  8. babysmiling Says:

    @emk808: This is scheduled to be NASA’s last shuttle mission. The current fleet of space shuttles are being retired. The new fleet of spacecraft won’t be ready for several years, and the federal government is currently evaluating the future of the space program — it’s one of those budget line items that some people think isn’t justifiable.

    Other countries will continue their space programs, and presumably there will continue to be Americans on board the International Space Station in collaboration with those other countries.

  9. Rebecca Says:

    The disgracefulness of the whole Sarah Palin target thing. I’m a massive leftie so I can’t stand the woman, and I really think she stepped over the line.

  10. strongblonde Says:

    boy. i’m totally out of the loop. i know about what happened in arizona, but somewhere i missed the end of the space shuttles? where have i been?? apparently i need to leave the house a little more often?

    i like to think that i’m able to make difficult decisions easily. somehow i’m able to separate myself and really look at things clinically. i make endless pros and cons lists, talk it out with whoever is involved, and really think about it. i don’t rush into anything. it becomes all consuming. but what that generally means is that i arrive at a decision that i’m comfortable with. that i can live with. that is “reasonable” for where i am in my life.

  11. Fran Says:

    I couldn’t find your email to reply to you in private but I wanted to hug you so much for your comment on my blog. I read your posts and felt so much better. I’m exhausted at pumping, like you it feels I’m either pumping or feeding Oliver and I’m so so tired. I can’t imagine how you did it with twins! I’m going to check out the website you recommended also. Big big thank you and love, Fran

  12. Ok, I go with option 1 even though it is a very hard one to answer. In those cases, I try to figure out what is realistically possible and what I think I can handle emotionally (does that even make sense?). I also try to remind myself that I shouldn’t put my life on hold for something that might or might not happen.

    Twelve years ago my MIL was dying of cancer. DH and I had been dating for almost two years (we weren’t married yet). I liked my MIL, but was not very close to her, to me she was a real lady, not a warm motherly figure. I spent about a week with to-be-DH and my SILs at her deathbed. It was good, but emotionally draining. I desperately needed support from my parents, who were with my sister in the US at that time (we had planned to go there as well but had canceled our trip). Everyone told me I should go after all, to be with my family. I wanted and needed that. So I went. My MIL died three days later. I did not go back for the funeral. Everyone told me it was OK. I still don’t know if it was.

    When my mom was in the last month of her life (last November), we had just started a new IVF cycle. Bad timing, yes, but when we started we didn’t know her situation would be deteriorating that fast (so that was a situation of don’t put your life on hold if you don’t know what’s going to happen). My mom had told me she wanted it to be over before I had to start stimming. In my head I knew I should just cancel the cycle, too much stress etc, but my heart wanted so badly to continue and I just hoped my mom would be able to hang on for two more weeks. She wasn’t. So I canceled after five days of stimming anyway. I didn’t arrive too late, so it was OK, but if the whole IVF cycle hadn’t played a role, I would have been there even earlier.

    So…to make a long story short, I’m not sure if I’m that good when it comes to making this kind of decisions…

  13. WiseGuy Says:

    I do not know of the Arizonian tragedy that you are referring to.

    If I got tugged in multiple directions, I would rather go with something that will make me less guilty. So if it were between a vacation and caring for an ailing family member, I would choose the latter. It would hurt to not go on the vacation. But it would pinch me more to be enjoying myself when somebody needs me badly.

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