My flashbulb memory: A week shy of sixteen years old, cramming for my Grade 11 math final. Bored, I flip on my clock radio. After a few minutes, CBC breaks into the regular programming to announce that the shuttle has exploded. Abandoning my textbook, I run upstairs and turn on CNN (big RCA floor model TV, faux woodgrain finish). Early on, someone spots parachutes in the vicinity of the exhaust cloud. The CNN announcer is momentarily overjoyed, thinking some of the astronauts escaped. But no, it's a Navy rescue team.
I watch the reports for the next three hours with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. At one point, CNN plays a canned report, intended for future broadcast, about how Christa McAuliffe's family is dealing with her absence.
My grandfather drives me to the school for my final. I pass, but only just.