"Try to find a way to have beauty come out of the ashes," she said. "You just want to feel like you're making a difference."
She is one of two Columbia spouses who have written memoirs about their loved ones. Kalpana Chawla's husband, Jean-Pierre Harrison, who also has remarried, published a biography titled "The Edge of Time" in 2011.
Clark is in Israel this week, taking part in an annual space conference held in honor of Ramon. Of all the Columbia families, he feels closest to Rona Ramon.
She became a grief counselor after her second family tragedy. The Ramons' oldest of four children, Asaf, died at 21 when his jet crashed in an Israeli training accident in 2009. One surviving son is a combat soldier in Israel; another is studying music in college. Her daughter is 15.
One of McCool's three sons is also in the military, a captain in the Marines.
Reminders of Columbia's dead are everywhere — including up in the sky.
Everything from asteroids, lunar craters and Martian hills, to schools, parks, streets and even an airport (Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport) bear the Columbia astronauts' names. Two years ago, a museum opened in Hemphill, Texas, where much of the Columbia wreckage rained down, dedicated to "remembering Columbia."
About 84,000 pounds of that wreckage — representing 40 percent of NASA's oldest space shuttle — are stored at Kennedy and loaned for engineering research.
The tragedy has made Clark and his son more spiritual.
"He's a really good kid and I wonder — you always wonder — would he have been this way if he hadn't lost somebody so dear in his life.
"Maybe this was Laurel's gift to him."
AP writer Aron Heller in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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