This post has taken me a couple days to write, mostly because every time I have thought about trying, I get a lump in my throat and end up just needing to think and process Nimoy’s death. So here goes, as jittery as it may come across, this is the small written tribute that I want to give now when it is still fresh.
It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t have a great respect for you right now. You influenced all of us, whether we knew of you or not. Science fiction, television— even space exploration— were influenced by you. I think you likely knew that.
What you wouldn’t have known, (I grieve that I never got the chance to meet or tell you), is the profound influence you had and continue to have on my life.
My introductions to Star Trek came fragmented throughout my childhood, and only in the past three years have been particularly strong. I remember distinctly watching one of the Star Trek movies with my family. During a popcorn break, my dad turned to me, laughing, and asked “Abby, are you half Vulcan?”
I nodded and laughed, because I knew it had something to do with Spock’s awkwardness, his blunt logical side, his struggle with the human, emotional side contrasted against his Vulcan stoicism. That was something my family has always cracked jokes at— the fact that I stumbled at hugs and sat on the opposite side of the room during movies and would deconstruct illogical arguments in seconds and loved strategizing to fix problems and adored all kinds of knowledge. I knew that there was something sort of inhuman about not understanding emotion, and it bothered me sometimes, but there were never heroes in fiction who understood how my personality worked. Then I sat and watched Spock, and my dad drew the connecting lines.
That was not the first day I had thought it, but that day I settled something in my soul— that there was something in Spock that fit, a puzzle piece against the way I understood myself, as someone who valued the same things that Spock valued and functioned in such a similar way.
Mr. Nimoy, you played a character that gave me a home. Spock was never static. He carried more emotion then he communicated directly, but you held it all under the surface, releasing emotion at key moments that gave Spock the ability to communicate such human emotions.
Spock stumbled along with emotions the same way I did— logically and flawed and oh so intensely. Spock was dark blues and desert reds and the logic of laughing when your captain survives (because you don’t know how to cry), of stoic grief and heartfelt, solemn rejoicing, of wisdom that comes with age and the kindness even towards an alternate version of yourself struggling to find his own way. Spock was intelligence and nuance and loyalty. And despite all his logic, Spock deeply cared. Maybe not everyone could see it, but I’ve always been able to read the nuance, and it is a testament to your skill and love for the character, Mr. Nimoy. You have always been more than simply Spock, but the way you poured into Spock is something that I treasure and am profoundly grateful for.
Mr. Nimoy— or, I suppose you wouldn’t mind— Grandpa Nimoy, you gave me Spock, and by that you gave me someone to grow into, skin to understand myself and stretch within and develop— I could never be Spock, exactly, but I could stretch my wings and use the ways we are the same to help find my own path with the same kind of grace and significance that Spock always did.
I have you to thank for the way that Spock feels like home and like hope. I have you to thank for being in reality as big hearted and intelligent minded as the most human of all Vulcans.
I have you to thank for large portions of my own recovery and struggle through depression and anxiety, the highs and lows of loss and emotion, from some of my darkest nights to my most numb months, Spock was something of a landing place of identity. Sometimes he was lost, sometimes I was. But mostly he was stable and standing when I was not, but I could see hope in the way that Spock existed— cool and logical, subtly nuanced, relationally deep if not always coherent, and with a spark of wonder in his eye that was never entirely masked by logic.
If Spock could be the best damn first officer in the fleet, then everything from here till Saturn was the playground and the galaxies beyond were our world to explore. And we would be alright. I would be alright. Somewhere along the road I started identifying as my own small version of Spock, and that was only because of how you, Grandpa, played the character to be accessible, to be relatable, to be moving and changing, alone but never alone, different but never isolated, always travelling but never quite arriving, an scientist and a mystic in awkward fitting science blues. Nimoy, I don’t know how to tell you just how much that meant to me; how much it still means. I don’t know how to tell you the many ways it saved me.
Grandpa Nimoy, my heart is aching to say goodbye, and I don’t really want to end this letter. I am infinitely grateful for your role in my life, which to you would have been but a dot in the many, many lives you touched, but to me is one of the greatest gifts I have been given on this planet.
Second star to the right and straight on till morning, Grandpa.
—from one girl who dares to call herself Spock sometimes— abigail (tgaispock).