As a child, lying awake in my bed, I thought about the never-ending. About time and space, and how it had no conclusion. I was a weird kid.
This idea, the thought that everything around me had no beginning and no end, tortured and enraptured me. The endlessness of time and space was a concept that formed me, drew me into its infinite embrace, and created in me a sense of often painful wonder.
Years later, in 1979, I took a course in astronomy at the University of Victoria from an incredible professor, Dr. Anne Gower, who held the occasional class at her groovy house. Those were the days! She lit candles, served us tea, played her flute, and talked about imponderables. The ineffable deepness and wonders of the universe. The stars. The miracle of endlessness.
And she talked about a roommate she had during her undergrad at Oxford. Stephen Hawking.
He was then absorbed in the math of infinity, and in the physics of what Dr. Gower called “Never-Never Land.”
It would be many years until Hawking would write the math about black holes – building on Einstein to define the end of time and space. To put on paper the idea of things that vanish but don’t go away.
Dr. Hawking died yesterday. He has gone to the Sweet Hereafter, passed into infinity, but will live on every starry night when the child in me gazes and wonders.