Leonard Nimoy passed away this week. I can still barely wrap my head around that fact.
How does someone you never met become a fixture of your life, enough so that you actually feel grief at his/her passing? Well, I’ve been thinking about that this week, because I actually felt pain upon hearing of his death. I’m a child of the seventies and eighties. I grew up watching Star Trek and the movies and series that followed. I didn’t have a crush on Jim Kirk like other girls did; my guy was Mr. Spock. My heart belonged to that pointy-eared alien from day one.
I’m a huge scifi-fantasy geek. My favorite books are generally fantasy, my favorite tv shows are invariably scifi. Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern top my book list, and for tv, if you guessed that Firefly topped that list, you’d be spot on. And Firefly could never have existed without Star Trek.
My dad worked for a defense contractor as an aeronautical engineer when I was growing up, and was actively involved in the space program. Models of airplanes and Apollo rockets everywhere. Dad could look up at a dot in the sky and know that dot was a Boeing 737 turbo-prop whatever-thingie, and he’d be right. I was dragged to more airshows than I care to remember. His love of all flying machines led him, and therefore my brother and me, to all things scifi. He introduced me to the USS Enterprise, and Mr. Spock. Between Spock and Uhura, I was hooked. I thought Nichelle Nichols was beautiful then, and I think she’s even more so now.
Spock, though, he was just cool. Always calm and completely unflappable. The Vulcan mind-meld was the epitome of awesomeness. And the ears! Who wouldn’t want pointy ears?!
The years passed, and Star Trek disappeared from my tv screen eventually, but I continued to see Leonard Nimoy hanging out at our house as Dad was also a fan of In Search Of. The show’s content didn’t interest me, not as a young girl discovering that the opposite sex could be – gasp – cute, but Mr. Spock had given me the gift of science fiction. Next in my heart were Han Solo and Chewbacca, followed by the real Lieutenant Starbuck, Lieutenant Boomer, and Captain Apollo as played by Dirk Benedict, Herbert Jefferson Jr, and Richard Hatch in 1978’s original version of Battlestar Galactica, which brought with it another fixture in our house: Lorne Greene, who was white-haired when I was an infant, and who I thought was immortal. He’d been around forever, and I thought he always would be. He was the first of my scifi heroes to boldly go away forever.
After that, while I enjoyed the other Star Trek series and other shows like Farscape, I never had another crush like the one I had on Spock until Malcolm Reynolds and his Firefly, Serenity. I love Nathan Fillion in Castle, don’t get me wrong, but Mal…Mal was fun to watch. I loathe FOX to this day for that particular cancellation.
Star Trek was the show that started me on the road to geekdom. I’ve never attended a Comic-con; though I have dearly wanted to go, they’ve never been held in a city near me that I know of. But I’m a geek nonetheless, and proud of it!
I’ve watched the most recent versions of the Star Trek movies, now that Chris Pine is Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto is Spock. Zachary makes a good Spock, but still, no one was as good at playing that character as Leonard Nimoy. He was Spock. And like Lorne Greene, he was in my home forever, and had become immortal in my mind also. I’d seen him in recent shows and thought, wow, he’s in his eighties now, still standing tall, still a commanding figure, still going strong, looking great. It was a shock to not only hear that he had passed away, but to hear that he’d been ill. I’d never seen any sign of it.
I didn’t know Leonard Nimoy. I’d never had the pleasure of meeting him. But I knew Spock very well, had known him for…well, no need to put a date to it; let’s just say for many years. And part of my heart broke to know that he was gone. Mortality is something we rarely want to face anyway, even knowing that one day we’ll have to. There’s no cheating death. While this grief doesn’t compare to the loss of my mother nine years ago, or the loss of any dog I’ve ever owned, it’s still a very real grief. The man who gave life to Mr. Spock, who gave me the gift of letting my mind boldly go to places it had never been, was a part of my life from infancy through adulthood. A star has gone supernova, and will be missed.