Noah spotted the photo on my computer screen immediately. Of the dozen or so colorful Windows live tiles cheerfully flipping around with updates, he zeroed right in on that one in particular.
“Spock!” he shouted.
He spotted the headline a few seconds later, before I even had a chance to even finish my internal groan of “ohhhhh nooooo.”
“He died? Spock died?” His voice dropped at least eight volume levels, and his always amped-up body froze.
There was no way or reason to sugarcoat it, so I explained that yes, the actor who played Spock had died earlier that day.
This month marks the four year anniversary of my dad’s death. It really doesn’t feel like that much time has passed, and yet when I do the math and realize that Noah was only five years old when he lost his Pop Pop, it feels like an eternity. He was a baby!
Noah remembers, and will talk very objectively and matter-of-fact about it, which is a nice way of way of saying that yeah, My Quirky Kid Is Quirky and doesn’t always phrase things in the most sensitive manner.
“Your dad died. It’s too bad you don’t have a dad anymore.”
“Yes, it is too bad.”
“And if your MOM dies, you’ll be an orphan!”
(He’ll say that with a sense of awe and wonder. I am guessing the 3,457,049 children’s movies that use the kill-parents-off-so-the-orphan-can-have-a-great-adventure trope has something to do with this, rather than any real desire for his Nana to die so I can go fight dragons or discover that I’ve actually been the rightful Queen of Bucks Country, PA all this time.)
But on Friday, I could tell. He got it this time. At nine years old, he gets it.
And he was devastated.
I tried to talk to him about it – the actor was very old, he’d lived a wonderful life and everybody loved him and missed him, we could still watch his shows and movies and remember him, etc.
Noah briefly veered back into the practical: How was this going to affect the new Star Trek movies, was the Young Spock okay, was Young Spock alive, I dunno, has anybody heard from Zachary Quinto lately and can confirm he’s cool?
And then he quietly went to his bedroom. I heard him digging around in his toy bins, talking to himself.
“Spock’s dead. Spock died. They can only make movies about the past now and can never go back to the present because the old Spock died but he was the first Spock and now we’ve lost our first and original Spock.”
I peeked in. He’d pulled out all his Star Trek ships and action figures and was quietly setting up a model of the Enterprise bridge. Soon his chatter switched to a perfectly memorized, beat-for-beat and word-for-word recitation of The Wrath of Khan. He knew every bit of dialogue and dramatic background music swell.
When the little neighbor girl showed up to play, Noah greeted her with: “Have you heard the absolutely terrible, awful news? SPOCK DIED TODAY.”
She didn’t know who Spock was, but patiently sat through a full hour of painstakingly detailed and exhaustive Star Trek background and education from Noah.
Later that evening, we watched the 2009 reboot.
(This had been Noah's first introduction to Trek, and from there he went straight to The Original Series, which remains his true love, as he is always partial to anything he can pinpoint as First and/or Original, before people start mucking around and "changing things," like the cast or the costumes or a barely perceptibly different paint job on the Enterprise.)
“Goodbye, Spock,” Noah whispered to the screen. "I'm going to really miss you."
I think we all will, Noah.
Live long and prosper, you sweet and amazing boy.