My dearest loved ones,
I’m writing to all of you in the hope that my words will bring some solace and help you adjust to what is about to happen. You all know how excited I was when they announced this project, you’ve all supported me and encouraged me to work hard to make it happen, and you’ve all been there through my darkest days when I thought it was slipping out of my reach.
From the moment I heard about the mission to Mars I knew I had to be on the crew, all those years staring up at the sky, wondering what lay beyond, the holidays to the Moon bases, and my acceptance to Lunar College were all a stepping stone.
I know now that those early days were just the beginning of a longer journey, one I didn’t even realise I wanted. Getting into space was the dream, remember that family trip to the Armstrong memorial? What a happy time that was! The photo of us all pretending to moonwalk still cracks me up and a print of that very photo will be one of my personal items on the Mars trip.
We aren’t allowed too many personal items, it’s a long journey and the less we take the quicker we will get there but along with that photo I’m taking some other things that remind me of you guys, my crazy family.
Dad, that jumper you knitted me got me through Lunar College and whilst it’s a little worse for wear I think the comfort it will bring may be much needed, our pods will be pretty sparse (it’s a military ship after all) so it’ll be good to be able to snuggle up with it. It always reminded me of my childhood, how you used to wrap your arms around me on cold days to keep me warm, how safe and loved I felt.
Mum, the utility knife you gave me when I graduated is already packed. I’m technically not allowed a ‘weapon’ but I’ve managed to smuggle it aboard all my other trips so it’s going on this one too! That knife has been with me through a lot of tough times but even just holding it in my hand has helped me stay focused. It’s weird I know but it’s got a nice heft to it that, when I hold it, reminds of you. Assured, calming, level headed and prepared.
Andy, well of course I’ve brought all those mixed tapes you kept sending me, maybe I’ll finally listen to one all the way through and realise that you do have some musical taste (I’m not holding my breath but I’ve got about 14 months to kill so…). I’ve also brought that baseball. Yeah, I kept it all these years, it’s been with me everyday since the accident, my own little secret that reminds me that if you can rise above that, then I can rise to meet any challenge. You are more inspirational to me than you’ve ever realised. People once told me that having a little brother would be a pain in the ass (they weren’t wrong!) but they never told me that I’d eventually be looking up to my little brother.
Caz, after everything you’ve been through I should confess something. I stole a little thing the last time I visited, knowing that I was on the shortlist for this mission. I wanted something to remind me of you, something that I could hold in my hand and draw comfort from. I hope you don’t mind, and I figured the twins won’t miss their little knitted booties anyway. I never told you, but my adorable niece and nephew are one of the reasons I wanted this mission so so badly. The future of Earth is so unstable it scares me, so if we can find a better place on, or beyond, Mars then I hope that I can play a part in making things safer for them and their children.
It hurts that I won’t see any of you again, that as we fly further and further from Earth the communication delay will start to be measured in hours and then days. Our last interactions earlier today were the last real time conversation we will ever have. The journey I’m about to embark on is weighing heavy and it’s all these little things that suddenly seem to matter more than anything.
I will miss you all terribly, more than I can express using words but this might be the last chance I get.
I love you all so so very much, I know I’ve not always been a good son, and I know I could’ve been a better brother. I know I could’ve done more, tried harder, but I guess I’ve always been wanting this escape. I need to go now, final preparations are under way and in less than an hour we will leave the Moon behind and start our journey into whatever space has to hold for us.
I believe I am doing this for all of us, a chance for a better future, but that doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.
Right, enough of this! Next stop Mars!!
Also published on Medium.