Friday, March 9, 2012

Into the Clearing

When I got to work Wednesday morning, my phone was lit up indicating a voice mail awaited. It was from my husband. His voice held a tone I only hear from him when he’s hurt to the core. When I called him back, I, too, felt punched in the gut. And the why of it is hard to explain to most folks.

My husband has been reading and commenting on Neptunus Lex for years. He’d e-mail me links to posts he found especially eloquent or thought provoking so I was an occasional reader as well. I frequently commented on Lex’s way with words – an expressive and lyrical writing that was simply a pleasure to read.

And a genuinely nice guy. When our daughter was applying to the Naval Academy, my husband e-mailed Lex and received a prompt and helpful response. Over the years, they e-mailed back and forth many times.

From my husband: “I sent him one of my favorite pictures once, of my daughter at about 12 years old in full Tae-Kwon-Do gear doing an ax kick with her foot well above her own head and a look of intense concentration on her face. Years later, when I shared the news that she got turned down for the Academy, he wrote back and expressed his sadness and said, ‘I know it’s silly, but she feels like family. I’m hurting for her just as you are.’ He then said that the young lady in that picture (which he remembered) would not let this bump in the road get her down for long.”

Lex had attended the Naval Academy himself and had an exhilarating career in the Navy – serving for a time as the XO of TOPGUN (all one word, as he would be sure to tell you). He logged over 5,000 hours in flight before his retirement. So it’s not surprising that he missed the world of invigorating flight and when the opportunity arose to yet again assist his country, albeit as a civilian this time, he jumped at it.

It was while flying an F-21 Kfir (an Israeli fighter jet) for a contractor that provided air-to-air combat training for military pilots that Lex piloted his final mission last Tuesday. Leaving behind not only a grieving real-life family, but many, many people who knew him only via the Internet, but considered him family as well and are bereft at his loss.

It’s hard to explain to the folks I work with why I keep reaching for the tissue box. Though I might have been only an occasional reader, I’ve been listening to “Captain Lex” stories at the dinner table for the past eight years. It’s difficult to believe there will be no more. It’s still not easy for people to understand why an on-line “relationship” can bring one to tears. And until this week, I would probably not have understood it myself.

Unlike many, I was fortunate enough to meet Lex in real life. He stopped by Boise after a stint at the air base in Mountain Home and my husband and I met him for dinner. He was as gracious in person as he was on line. It’s hard to believe that such a vibrant man is gone. And that the wonderful voice he gave his blog has been silenced forever.

RIP Captain Lex. You will be deeply missed.


NaCly Dog said...

Beautif words and a picture to treasure. Thank you.

MissBirdlegs in AL said...

Such a good post, Sharon. I appreciate Joe putting up the link at Lex's Place. If you haven't shared it on the Memorial FB site, would you please do so? I envy you people who can put your feelings into words. Thank you.