On February 27th, the snow was falling and the day was cold. Work was busy, and I was seeking a break from the overload. I checked my Twitter feed during a small break, and found a simple message from a friend: “RIP Leonard Nimoy.”
My heart fell into my stomach, and proceeded to shatter on its way down. I knew that he had fell sick recently, and that he was rushed back into the hospital due to the complications with his chronic illness. But he was updating his Twitter just days ago! Surely this monument of a man was not gone!
The rest of the day was spent in a numbed state of shock and depression. One of my idols was, in fact, gone.
I’ve never been much of a celebrity follower. I learned that they are people, just like the rest of us, with a high profile job and an industry that cushions reality for most of these people. To be blunt, a majority of well-known people take full advantage of the attention and turn into profit, for better or worse. But there are a few that use their popularity as a vehicle to promote and champion social justice, fairness, equality, and positive messages. Mr. Nimoy was one of the few that utilized his platform for a better world, a world of the future. He was a man with one foot in the present and one foot in the future. And what a future he set out to create!
Is this the ramblings of a woman who idolized Star Trek in her teen years, when most of her peers only cared for Clueless and adolescent magazines? Are my words a reflection for the respect I hold for fictional sci-fi characters? Are these the musings of a nerd in mourning, a female Trekkie who lost Mr. Spock? It might be. However, Leonard Nimoy was more than an actor, a poet, an artist and an author (a very good author, I might say!). He was one of the few people who offered encouragement during a time when it was hard to come by.
May 2011: I was a year into returning to school, borrowing heavily to pay for my sudden interest to pursue a degree in a field where jobs were quickly becoming scarce. The fall out from certain family members was still a bleeding wound on the inside, and I was wearing down quickly from working and attending school full time. I was constantly out of the house seven days a week. I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t want to stop my education, when all other opportunities were quickly drying up. My general feelings on life at the time:
When an e-mail hit my inbox, announcing that Leonard Nimoy would come visit a local town, Irving, Texas, I knew that I had to go do this. I had been a long-time admirer of the man, and with his health becoming fragile and his age passing into the 80s, I knew it was now or never. I needed something good in my life.
I splurged and bought tickets for myself and two other friends. These same friends turned right around and bought my pass to meet Leonard Nimoy before his scheduled panel at the convention.
To say I was stoked was an understatement.
The Saturday came, and my nerves rendered me a complete mess. I had met some other Star Trek actors, and I came away feeling a little worse for doing so. Time and age had taken a toll on the two I had met before, and it showed. My rose-colored glasses were quickly fading.
To my surprise and delight, Nimoy was wonderful. He talked to the child in front of me in the line, where he was signing a Transformer action figure (he lent his voice to….someone in the movie.) The mom was freaking out, and the kid was just in shock. When my turn came up, I made quick conversation with him, and his polite attitude and his aura instantly perked up my mood. He signed my book (the one I have, safe in storage) and thanked me for purchasing his novel, I Am Spock.
During his panel, he praised his fellow coworkers, such as the late Deforest Kelley and Jimmy Doohan. He made everyone in the room feel special, elated, and bonded. We were all a family that day. Grandpa Nimoy (yes, Grandpa, he made it official on his Twitter feed!) told us sci-fi war stories, and humored the fan who had watched his obscure and little-known films. He was full of praise and kindness. He made everyone around him just flat-out happy.
I once had a video from Youtube of the panel, but it is now deleted. When I blogged (via Livejournal) about the day, here are my exact words from the meeting:
After he signed my book, the three amigos (sister, friend and myself) hung out next to the ballroom for his speaking. I thought it was going to be a Q an A, like other stars, but instead, Nimoy recounted his life lessons, and his rise to fame. Sound conceded and boring? No. After reading both of his books, and watching interviews of the man, seeing his photography and hearing his music, I can stay that he is wise, warm and romantic when he recalls his early life. He is so honest and humble, yet he draws you in and all you can do is sit like a child, hearing stories from your grandparents. He is not just an actor, but he is a good man.
To say he was hilarious was an understatement, and 45 minutes was not nearly long enough. He even made a slideshow of pictures from his childhood and early acting career. He spoke briefly about honor, and his Masters in Education (love love love!). When one of the volunteers told him that he was about to be kicked off the stage, he crowd was very displeased, and he pointed to her and said “GET THE RED SHIRT!” (The staff all had red shirts). Everyone cracked up, and he tried to go through the slideshow quickly and told his abridged story with his photos. The one with his son Adam with Vulcan ears and a Spock haircut standing on the bridge of the Enterprise next to his made-up father was beyond heartwarming. He closed with his own thoughts and life lessons. And, of course, he finished with a “Live long, and prosper.”
The one detail I had left out that day was the one thing that put the spark back into my life and my passion, the words that had stuck with me, even to this day. Nimoy was recounting his acting career previous to his success found with Mr. Spock. His family insisted that acting was a dead-end job, with no hope, no money and no future. He pursued what he always dreamed of doing. Not only did he fine fame, fortune and a loving fanbase, but he also found wisdom, kindness and family. He told us during that panel that no matter what, there is always room for one more good one.
I wrote those words on my mirror. I wrote those words on my notebook, my papers, my whiteboard, my hands. I told myself that no matter how bad things become, or what new problem would arise, to keep going, and work through it, because there is, indeed, always room for one more good one.
I hope all of you do indeed live long, and prosper in all areas of your life.
A short note from Pixie:
When Lyn approached me about sharing a few words also, I was both grateful and worried. Especially now after reading her post above. What more can I possibly add? She has already said everything perfectly.
I grew up with Spock in my home and on my television almost every day since I was small. It had been my father’s favorite show, and I got hooked on it at a young age. I was told that the first time I started watching, I would not stop staring at his character anytime he was on the screen. Ha. I was the kid through middle school, junior high and high school that watched Star Trek every evening–TOS & TNG. Leonard Nimoy wasn’t just some ‘celebrity’ for me… he impacted my life as a person and role model. He inspired me. And it seemed to be noticeable from the start.
The passing of Mr. Nimoy shocked me, shattered me, and I didn’t want to believe it for a while. I was in denial for the first few hours after the news broke. I’d seen his tweet just a day or two before. Then the hurt. A few days later I read interviews with Zachary Quinto (actor currently playing the “young Spock” in Star Trek reboots) and became a sobbing mess all over again. I wish I’d known this man, even for just a few seconds.
I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to ever meet him. It breaks my heart that I hadn’t. But at the same time, it also fuels me to try and meet other important people to me, because life happens and things happen unexpectedly. The best way to say it, like Lyn, like Grandpa Nimoy, is to Live Long and Prosper.