I woke up today to Liz telling me that Leonard Nimoy had died. Literally, I was asleep, and she woke me up to tell me 🙁
It was a rough day, to be honest. I knew from how emotional I felt a few days ago when it was announced that he’d been rushed to the hospital that I was going to take it pretty hard whenever he were to finally pass away. Well, today was that day.
Spock, see, was my hero. Quite literally. I remember being obsessed with two movies when I was a four year old; the Disney animated Robin Hood, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (the one with the whales). That’s how far back Spock goes for me. Spock was cool, he was alien, he had powers, he was smart. He was smarter than everyone else, in fact; he was one of those characters when you’re a kid that when they came on screen, you weren’t scared any more because you knew that he was going to figure out whatever was wrong and save everyone. He made me feel safe, like a parent does, from a very early age in my life, and I will always love Spock and Leonard Nimoy for that.
When I was older and really, truly got into Star Trek, it became quickly apparent just how special Nimoy was in the Trek universe. He and Patrick Stewart I would argue are the two pillars of that entire franchise. Those two men embodied everything that Star Trek ever aspired to be, and when they were on screen, the unconventional premise of a positive future actually worked, even in a dramatic sense.
I remember crying when I first saw Star Trek II and Spock dies, and I certainly did my share of crying today, looking through the outpouring of grief and sympathy and admiration that dominated the internets.
Most poignant of the memories for me is a recent one, in fact, where the Ho and I attended the big convention that they hold in Vegas each year. It was 2011 and Nimoy had announced that it would be his last. We went, sure that we wanted to be there for such an event, and we even went all out and bought autograph tickets and I got to meet him in person and have him sign this plaque that we had…well, it didn’t really dawn on us until he was speaking on stage and he went through a pictorial slide show of his entire life, and he ended the presentation with a very emotional, tearful farewell to the fans, calling us “family” that Liz and turned to each other and she started bawling, which made me, in turn, start crying as well: Nimoy was saying goodbye because he knew he wasn’t going to be around forever. He hadn’t said it outright, but both of us could read between the lines and hear it in his voice – he wanted to say goodbye so he could be sure that he HAD the chance to say goodbye, on his own terms, while he was still able to travel and be out there amongst the fans.
Sure enough, he announced a few months later that he had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. He knew he was dying. He knew how he would die. He didn’t know exactly when it would be, but he knew it was coming.
He spoke only of gratitude that day, which is precisely what I feel when I think about being there, and in general of the man. I looked up to him much more than I ever knew until it dawned on me that one day I would have to continue my life without him out there in the world with us. I wanted to be smart like him, and kind, and ethical, and as logical as I could be in stuations where someone needed to be logical and thoughtful. He made me feel safe, and he was my friend even if I never got to know him personally. I knew him through his body of work, which is such a magical thing.
Tonight, the Ho and I had a nice date, we went and had food together down the street at 1-Up, a new food and drinks joint that had so-so food, but cool free video games. We walked home, and I asked her if it was okay if we watched The Voyage Home, my first Trek love and a movie directed by Nimoy himself…the most Nimoy of the Trek movies, I’d wager. She said yes, because she’s a loving wife, and we watched it together and laughed and remembered.
Leonard Nimoy was a part of my family. I felt his life and influence that way, and I am feeling the sadness of his passing the same. I loved him dearly, and I will miss him dearly. That chair on the Enterprise will now forever be empty on this day…and full with him in it on every other as his increadible legacy of work will live on. Live long and prosper to all of us, may we have an impact on each other’s lives that is but a fraction of Nimoy’s. He was one of the greats.
The speech he gave on August 14th, 2011 at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, including his tearful farewell to his adoring fans around the 7:00 mark: