July 16th, 2015
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Photo Courtesy of NASA

Photo of Pluto Courtesy of NASA


I had an unexpected flashback Tuesday as NASA began releasing brand-new pictures of Pluto.

When I first saw the amazingly clear photo of the brownish white so called “dwarf-planet” Pluto, I got excited and thought, “Oh I have to call Tommy.”

Wow.  I even surprised myself with my reaction to that one.  As though nothing had changed.

Except everything has changed and I think I had that immediate thought of calling my husband because for decades he expertly covered and beautifully wrote in national newspapers and magazines about science and space issues and events and today when something newsworthy happens in the world of space exploration I still, even now, still, immediately think of him.

Even after his death many years ago.

I write about this flashback today because to me it’s a classic example of the unpredictable ways in which grief can operate in your life no matter how much time has passed since your loved one died.

You may think, like me, that you have processed a good amount of those yucky and down right sad feelings of grief and then BAM! something happens that catches you off guard and you are totally sucked back into the same feelings you thought you could not feel again.

It’s true that those feeling were not as painful as they would have been if this had happened in the months immediately following his death but many, many years later, the twinge in my stomach is still there.

These kinds of flashbacks can also happen when you hear a song that reminds you of your loved one, when you smell or eat a particular food your loved one considered a favorite or when you happen to run into someone who knew your loved one really well and your conversation leads you to reminisce either verbally or mentally about times when your loved one was alive.

On Tuesday, while listening to the radio and TV reports about NASA’s scientists gathering to wait for the pictures of Pluto to download from the planetary probe, I immediately thought of Tommy sitting at his incredibly messy office desk (the picture below was taken before computers), rapidly writing notes while energetically talking on his phone, totally into his zone of reporting all about NASA’s close encounter with Pluto.

tommy at desk

Tommy at his desk at The Washington Post

He absolutely loved talking to scientists! There was no nerd factor there for him at all.  He thought scientists were the coolest of the cool.  But most of all Tommy had an amazing and unique talent for taking things scientific and writing about them in a way that the average person could not only understand but could also enjoy.

Thanks Pluto for taking me on a beautiful journey to a galaxy of memories I had not visited in a while.

It was a lovely ride.

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2 Responses to “In a Galaxy Far Far Away”

    • Mary Kate Cranston

      Thank you Julie! I’m so glad that you enjoyed this particular post. Please pass it along if you think it might help others trying to process their feelings of grief.


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