I was disconsolate at first and would look longingly up at the stars which were now, perhaps forever, beyond my reach. But my sons were going out there and, for some inexplicable reason, that gave me great solace. Then, too, Earth was still young and beautiful and so was Marla. I still had the full capacity to enjoy these blessings.
* * * * *
Not for long. When we saw the boys off to Centauri I had a dizzy spell and only with the greatest effort hid my distress until the long train of ships had risen out of sight. Then I lay down in the Visitors Lounge from where I could not be moved for several hours. Great waves of pain flashed up and down my spine as if massive voltages were being released within me. The rest of my body stood up well to this assault but every few seconds I had the eerie sensation that I was back in my old body, a ghostly superimposition on the living protoplast, as the spinal chord projected its agony outward. Finally the pain subsided, succeeded by a blank num