“At the moment Leonard’s soul left him on Friday morning, his family had gathered around him in a ring of love. Leonard smiled, and then he was gone. It was gentle passing, as easy as a “hair being lifted from a cup of milk,” as the Talmud describes the moment of death. What did Leonard see? We can’t know, but Susan imagines that he beheld his beloved cocker spaniel Molly, an angelic presence in life and now in death.”
— Rabbi John L. Rosove
Perhaps I had to wait until I read this until I could write anything non-fictional. Having read Zachary Quinto's tribute, where he said he 'knew [Leonard] was very sick during the last few days of his life,' I think I needed to hear that he died with a smile on his face.
I've been feverishly writing Star Trek since Friday. I don't know what else to do with myself. Oh, I also baked a cake. With a desperate, almost angry intention I decided I was going to cook the best fucking cake ever, so I bought chocolate and cream and sugar and flour and brought it home and baked a cake. It was ready on my Sunday afternoon, at about the same time the funeral was occurring early in the morning in California. It felt good to do something. I've had cake for breakfast for the next two days, and that felt good too, like holding a little memorial service every morning with my cup of tea.
I don't know how to encapsulate everything Spock, and so also Leonard Nimoy, mean to me. I won't say meant because meaning doesn't die. It's a familiar story, of course. The person who always feels like an outsider, the person with few friends, the person who has a hard time showing their emotions. I fell in love with Star Trek - in love with Spock - when I was about 15, and of course I had to endure the taunts of people who thought it was so wrong to love something like that in the 1990s when I should have been in love with - well, god knows what. I can't remember what my contemporaries were in love with. Loving Spock brought me through all that. It brought me through so many dark moments. Often my Star Trek fiction is very dark. I put Spock through a lot. But he always rises and comes out shining bright. He recovers. It's his ability to rise and overcome despite the darkness that gets me through. So there Spock was, stuck with me for the rest of my life.
And there Leonard Nimoy was too. I can't honestly say I thought he was the best poet in the world, or even the best photographer (although I thought many of his black and white shots were stunning). At times he showed seriously dubious fashion sense. But what's that compared to a soul? What always shone through was a soul of art and grace and life. A man of compassion and deep feeling. A man who went beyond Spock while embodying the character's best facets, and made such an incredible mark on the world. His life seemed to unfold after Star Trek, once he had the security that every actor seems to crave, and it was lovely to see him exploring so many things that he loved. And the world loved him in return. The scale of the outpouring of grief and tributes from the world for the passing of one person is truly remarkable. Everyone knew Spock, and so of course everyone knew Leonard Nimoy.
I am slowly coming to realise that while human beings are mortal, and pass on, Spock cannot die. That's some comfort. As long as we keep writing and drawing and creating him in art, he will be there. That will be small comfort to Leonard Nimoy's family, perhaps. Theirs is the real loss. Most of us have lost a distant icon. They have lost a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, a person they hugged and spoke to and shared with. They will have lost the smell of him, the silences, early morning moments, late nights, impromptu phone calls. We grieve with them, but we cannot grieve as they grieve.
But, Spock cannot die. We will keep on writing him and drawing him. We will keep on pushing it forward, making him part of our lives. He has been reaching out to lonely and misunderstood people for almost fifty years, and he will continue to do so. He'll probably save the lives of some of them just by letting them know they're not alone. That's a hell of a legacy to leave behind.