I’ve been working my way through the original series of Star Trek, which I have always adored. My family watched it together when I was a child. It was our Friday night ritual. We’d have cheese pizza (being good Catholics, so no meat on Fridays in the late 1960s) and watch first a series called “The Name of the Game” and then “Star Trek,” if memory serves. The early “Mission: Impossible” figured in somewhere, but I can’t recall if that was the same night or a different night. At any rate, I was brought up on Star Trek, and science fiction has always been in my blood. This past Christmas I received the boxed set of the full original series, and have been pacing myself, working through those three delicious seasons. Of course over the years, when it was in re-runs, I’d catch it whenever possible, so I’ve seen all the episodes many times. That doesn’t dull their appeal for me.
And now, in the internet age, I can watch the show and simultaneously look up the actors’ biographies on IMDB.com to learn about them.
Mostly I look at their dates of birth. My parents were roughly the same age as many of the actors on the show. I note the ones who were born around the same time as my parents to see if they’re still alive, and if so, how old they are now. I count off the years, and feel a strange sense of injustice at the ones who outlived my parents, who maybe were born within a year or so of when my parents were. I feel so cheated to have lost my father far too soon (aged 62) and even my mother at the age of 83. But when I see actors who died much younger I mourn for them, for their lives cut short. There is no fairness in life, I know. There’s no one to be angry at for their deaths, no one and nothing to rage at. Dad’s been gone more than thirty years, Mom eleven this May. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t wish they were here. Dad would have loved seeing the advances in science and technology, and to see his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and Mom mostly for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Technology baffled her at times. She had a vague understanding of the internet, but never really used it. She was amazed by it and in awe of me using it.
In the Star Trek:ToS, S3:Ep23, “All Our Yesterdays,” Kirk, McCoy and Spock visit a planet called Sarpeidon whose sun is about to go nova and destroy it. All the people have fled into some past era on their world. McCoy and Spock accidentally pass through to the planet’s ice age, where they meet a woman named Zarabeth (played by Mariette Hartley). Spock begins to revert to a more primitive state and falls for Zarabeth. When he and McCoy find their way back to their own time again, he observes, “Yes it did happen. That was 5000 years ago, and she is dead now. Dead and buried, long ago.”
And so she is, from where he stands, even if he was with her only moments ago by his reckoning. (Mariette Hartley is still with us, happily.) His memories of her will always be a part of him, and the fact of her existence will live on in him, just as my parents live on in my memories, and in my heart.