For one San Rafael boy, gazing at the moon has simultaneously helped him cope with his parents' death and served as an inspiration for his future career.
Eleven-year-old Max Boddington, who recently lost both his parents, penned an essay last month about how his hero, Neil Armstrong, and the moon have helped him combat with post-traumatic stress disorder.
He never imagined that his fifth-grade prose would receive a response from the legendary astronaut just weeks before his death.
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"Sometimes when I look out at the moon I wonder if my mom and dad are watching me," Boddington wrote in the essay. "Especially when the moon is full and bright. Can you see me, Mama? Can you see me, Daddy?"
The essay ends with Boddington’s wish to meet Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to walk on the moon, calling him “the world’s number one space hero.”
Boddington's adoptive mother was determined to share her son's moving words with his hero. After tracking down Armstrong on the Internet, she mailed him a copy of the child's essay.
On August 1, the space legend emailed her back:
Thank you for sharing Max's essay with me. It is very poignant and erudite for an 11-year-old. Tell Max I send him my very best wishes for good luck and success."
Mother and son were immediately ecstatic when they received the email.
"I was so touched and so moved that this number one space hero would take time out to answer a little boy and his essay," said Janet Boddington to NBC.
Only 24 days after Armstrong sent the email, the former astronaut died of complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.
Boddington, who lost his biological parents when he was seven, now dreams of becoming a famous astronaut like Armstrong.
"That's awesome that he wrote back" he said. "It's like I already met him but in words on a piece of paper. That's one way to meet someone on a piece of paper."
Max's new favorite person, though, may be the woman who made it all possible -- his adoptive mom.
“I couldn’t do anything without her, because all I need is her. Just to help me and stuff. And, like, make me succeed, just like Neil Armstrong did it,” he said to the San Jose Mercury News.
Watch the video below, courtesy of CBS.