The bright sunlight peeked in through the cracks of the withered wooden door of our childhood tree-house, which stood perched in the old oak tree in the afternoon quiet. Only the low chatter of some sparrows echoed from the forest at the edge of the backyard. Undaunted by the darkness of the room the sunlight slithered across the floor to rest upon my eyes until I could no longer ignore it. The sunlight poked in from in-between the spaces of the branches of the oak tree; it must have been up for hours before I noticed it watching me from above. It would not just be another ordinary day for Moky and me. It would be our last day together, and I could not keep it from coming, just as I could not stop the sun from rising victoriously in the big blue empty sky. The sky was as big and empty as the vast darkness of my soul that afternoon, and I couldn't say or yell, "No! Go away!"
I could only pray, "I need just one more day, please!"
I soon found myself back in the summer of 1969, dad and I were building our vacation tree-house. Earlier that July morning, we were watching the news. It had the ever so important news of July 20, 1969, that I still recall so clearly, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
My dad and I were avid space and science fiction nerds. We loved everything about the topic. Also, it was the year, my new baby sister Mercury was born, better known as Moky.
We did not have enough money to take a vacation that summer, because we needed to save up for the new baby. My dad thought I felt ignored and upset about not taking our usual vacation to the mountains, so he decided to build our Lunar Tree-house. At the time, we were Star Trek fans; we named our tree-house the Enterprise. It became our two-person space station. I called my dad Captain, and he named me Scotty.
By the end of July, we christened her the Enterprise with root-beer floats. We painted her silvery blue and painted her name in large black block letters across the door. My dad even installed observation windows that open and closed.
"Enterprise, what a perfect name for her. We are finally ready for her maiden voyage tonight, Venus," said my dad when he finished painting the last letter of the name.
That afternoon we decorated the walls with colorful posters of the universe, pictures of the Star Trek crew, and the crew of Apollo 11. My father surprised me with an old second-hand telescope and a second-hand mini television. We made over two dozen trips up and down the spiral staircase hauling our two sleeping bags, a case of science books, and enough snacks to last for weeks. We must have packed enough food for the crew of the Apollo 11 to return to the moon and back. The energy of the moment surged through my body like a rocket ready for its blast off.
After our celebration, we spread ourselves across the floor in our sleeping bags. We talked into the night watching the vast universe through our telescope. He designed the tree-house with a pullback roof that allowed us to gaze into the night sky. At that moment, he became the most intelligent carpenter in the world to me.
That summer, it seemed every star and planet sparkled brighter in the sky. We often talked into the night, he told me of his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut and traveling to the moon. However, he had to quit high school to help support his family when his father died of a heart attack. He took over the family's carpenter business at the age of seventeen and had to give up his dreams of space.
I told him I would make his dreams come true. I would be the first woman to walk on the moon someday.
We spent almost every evening in that tree-house that summer gazing into the stars and the future.
My baby sister arrived on the last day of July one hot summer day. That was the day my Uncle Marcus and Auntie Marianna came over to watch me. They loved the Enterprise as much as we did. To this five year old that meant everything, so I invited them to stay the night on the ship.
Before my mom and dad went to the hospital, my dad said, "Scotty, since you are the big sister, would you like to name the baby?"
"Oh, daddy, can I? Is that okay with mommy?"
"Venus, we both want you to." I hugged my parents around their legs in gratitude. We waved goodbye from the front yard as they drove off to the hospital.
Uncle Marcus picked me up and gave me an upside-down Martian ride up to the tree-house. Auntie Marianna followed close behind with a picnic basket full of goodies for our space lunch. She even made green Martian tuna sandwiches, slimy oatmeal cookies, and lemonade.
That afternoon, we planned a trip to all the planets. We were on a mission to find a name for my new baby sister.
"Is the baby coming home soon?"
"Yes, Venus. Your parents will bring your baby sister home tomorrow," said Auntie Marianna.
On the Enterprise that night, we talked about Star Trek, Apollo 11, the planets, and my new baby sister, who needed a name. I tossed and turned in my sleeping bag that night fidgeting, and fusing about what to name her.
" I got it!" I squealed, popping out of my bag.
"What's wrong, honey?" asked Auntie Marianna.
"Moky will be her name. I'll name her after the smallest planet because she's the baby of the family."
"Moky? Do you mean Mercury?"
"I like that name, Venus," said Uncle Marcus.
"I think Moky will be her perfect nickname," added my Auntie.
The next afternoon, my parents and Moky came home, and we all spent our first night on the Enterprise. The most exciting thing about that day was I became a big sister. I held Moky in my arms as we looked up into the sky together.
"Moky, someday you and I will walk on the moon," I said and kissed her forehead. We fell asleep snuggled in between our parents.
Mercury and I spent many childhood summers in our old tree-house over the years. Together we took many amazing trips to the moon and the future. We learned about the world and the universe in reading books and watching television with our parents.
I can not imagine my life without my sister, Moky. At times I wonder if it had not been for Moky if my dad and I would have ever built the Enterprise or taken our trips to the moon that summer. Maybe we would have never even slept under the stars in the backyard or shared our dreams.
Here I am, Moky, waiting for you again. There seems to be no way I can help you stay. If I could stop time, long enough to find a cure for your illness, I would. If I could build a time machine to go into the future to help find a cure, nothing could stop me. However, little sister, all I can do now is travel into the past and relive memories of you, mom, and dad.
It has been over ten years since both of our parents passed away. Our parents encouraged us to become seekers of knowledge and to be thankful for our lives. It is because of their dreams that I became an astronaut, and the first woman to walk on the moon.
As for Mercury, she became a bio-mechanic and robotic engineer. She even designed the latest space shuttle named the Enterprise. I was supposed to land on the moon today. However, because she needed me, I choose to stay here on earth and watch the moon from our Enterprise.
Moky died this afternoon in my arms, here on the Enterprise with me, Uncle Marcus and Auntie Mariana. She wanted to go, she was ready to leave and join our parents. Like the universe, our family ties and prayers will always connect us across time and space.
As I said before, this is no ordinary day.