Curiosity launched on November 26th, 2011 and traveled for 8 & 1/2 months to get to Mars, a 2.5 billion dollar baby that was finally born this Monday. Once it was launched, all NASA could do was wait and watch, hoping that everything they'd done in preparation for this HUGE event would come to fruition. I guess that makes them Science Midwives. Sometimes, thankfully, things just go the way you expected them to.
I can't help but think of the Curiosity in terms of gestation and birth because it's journey to Mars began around the time that Cliff went to jail. And what many of you don't know is that Cliff's incarceration was not the plan for our family in late November; we had, in fact, decided to start trying to have another baby after Cliff's trial was over.
I was expecting to be pregnant in August of 2012. I was expecting to be preparing another nursery with another crib. I was expecting to be preparing Gareth to be a big brother. I was expecting to be preparing for another speedy labor and delivery, for another early arrival of another precious child. I was expecting my own precious Curiosity to make a safe arrival in this world, though admittedly without strangers watching the event on live-stream. But obviously, I'm not pregnant. There will be no baby, no new nursery and crib, no labor and delivery. Instead I am helping Gareth along the road to being potty-trained, navigating life as a single mother and pastor, making a monthly visit to a Texas prison to see my husband. Surely my life is curious, but the life that has been born this August was not the birth I was expecting.
Unlike the journey of Curiosity, my own journey has been fraught with disaster and course adjustments. And admittedly, this new life (post-conviction) is still gestating, my future an unknown quantity. The landscape is alien and sometimes forbidding, and sometimes it feels as lonely as Curiosity's own new life might be on the Martian landscape. I just keep rolling ahead, though, because what else is there to do? Stop and break down? Run backwards in an attempt to wrest from the past the future I thought I would inhabit? No - there is only the horizon in front of me and the opportunities to see more than I have seen, to be amazed by something new, to look forward to something unknown and unplanned for.
I'm trying to stop dwelling on the life I've lost - instead of mourning the baby I'm not carrying, I'm trying to celebrate the "Baby" that has been born on the surface of Mars. But it is difficult to not be swallowed and smothered by the what-ifs, the alternate universes that I could of inhabited. I'm trying to remember the wonder and boundless nature of the universe I already live in.
Congratulations Curiosity. May your journey be one of discovery and not disaster.
May it be so for all of us.