SAN RAFAEL (CBS 5) — Three weeks before he died, legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong wrote a letter of encouragement to a San Rafael boy.

11-year-old Max Boddington of San Rafael wrote an essay named “When I Look at the Moon” two years ago, as he was trying to cope with the death of both of his parents.

“Sometimes when I look up at the moon, I wonder if my Mom and Dad are watching me,” he wrote. “Space is a mystery, just like death. It can be dark and lonely, but it can be beautiful too.”

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.”

Max’s adoptive mom, Janet Boddington had an idea. “I said, ‘You know, I’m going to send it to Neil Armstrong. I’m going to find him and mail him a copy,’” she recalled.

On August 1st, three weeks before his death, Armstrong emailed his reply. He complimented Max’s writing and wished him good luck and success.

“I was just thrilled to receive it because he’s my hero too. He’s inspired a nation,” Janet Boddington said.

While Max greatly admires Armstrong and his accomplishments, his greatest inspiration may be standing right beside him.

“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.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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