In Memoriam for Leonard Nimoy

I was going to write something today about the passing of Leanord Nimoy, but then I read this tribute by one of my students and realized I could not write anything better. He gave me permission to reprint it.

By Matthew Daniel Birkenhauer

When I was a kid, I felt like an alien. Still do, really—just better at pretending otherwise.

Like a lot of kids, I loved adventure, and I loved Star Trek. I watched the old VHS tapes till they splattered tape everywhere. I grew up with the crew of the Enterprise—Kirk, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, and all the rest. But most of all, I grew up with Spock.

Mr. Spock was strange, and he knew it. He didn’t think like a normal person. Yet everyone respected his intellect and, ultimately, saw and respected him as an equal. Out of all the crew, I related to him—though I didn’t know why, didn’t analyze it till rather recently.

Leonard Nimoy’s performance as Spock was grave, gravelly, and winkingly wry all at once. He was a hero for me—not just Spock, but the man behind him. I think it’s rather unfortunate he got so few roles after Trek, considering the talent he possessed—just listen to his performance as Master Xehanort in the Kingdom Hearts games, and the way he managed to meld a lunatic snarl with a sly, winking camp.

But I digress. Tend to do that.

I’m not surprised that Nimoy died, to be honest. I knew it was coming—I’d learned about his terminal illness last year. I didn’t expect some miracle to save him, some Genesis Device, some magical Benedict Cumberbatch blood.

But now that it’s happened, it still hurts. Because when I felt bullied, when I felt like an outcast, like an alien, I’d sometimes pop in an episode of Star Trek. And watching Nimoy’s lively, textured performance, I’d remember that this was all temporary. That the Spocks of the world were important. They were loved, aloof and weird as they could be.

Goodbye, Mr. Nimoy. Maybe you changed the world—I don’t know. But at least you changed mine.

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