This is a bit hard to write.
What does loss mean? What does a person go through loss? What is life after death? How does everybody else miss that person after a person dies and acknowledge that person’s importance? I could do round and round in metaphors all day.
I am not sure where to begin. The only reason I was/am so determined to go through this journey is that I don’t have anyone to worry about. Or anyone to constantly worry about me. Long story short, I lost my grandfather, grandmother, beloved dog, and father in 2 years. I was young. Please make no mistake, my relationship with my father wasn’t great, and we barely made peace on most topics except ethics and morals.
He was a doctor himself. Growing up, he wanted me to become a doctor, but my heart and soul stood by computers, and my mom sternly said once that her son was not going to become a doctor as there were enough doctors in the family. The feeling of “If I had become a doctor, I could have saved him” lingered in my head for a while, but then I realized how he boasted of my accomplishments, inventions, and research to everyone. Even if I became a doctor, I would be a bad doctor. Although, I plan to do an EMT training certification soon, and I am pretty excited about that.
It’s a weird dynamic; even though I had a father, I grew up without one. Getting raised by a single mother changes your perspective on life. You see how much women go through in their day-to-day lives. The struggles that men take for granted easily.
I lost the people I cared about the most in 2 years. Loss changes you as a person. You grow as a person. You become mature. You understand that life is short; learn to value it, and realize that most of the crucial things in life are usually right in front of you and that you choose to ignore them until it’s too late.
I didn’t have much family to begin with. I read somewhere that astronauts need to be cold-hearted and not emotionally attached to anything, but I didn’t have a choice or a say in mine. Even if I come back wrapped in a body bag, not many will miss me, which is somehow okay. Okay, maybe some will. The woman down the block who runs her grocery store I occasionally help remove the snow for free during winters. (Free cardio workout). The subway owners have practically adopted me by now because I fixed their computers and systems for free. I can’t believe that they fed me food for more than 1.5 years and gave me his office to study and experiment during grad school. I mean, I only fixed his computer. He was an angel in disguise. The truth is, he did more for me than my biological father ever did. And I’ve never received so much love from anyone.
When I made sure his name got printed on the university website and paper, along with mine, his wife was thrilled. It was a simple article, but it meant a lot to them.
He never studied beyond 3rd grade, and yet he has a heart of gold. I try to spend every Saturday with them and help them out in the shop.
Yeah, they will miss me. He ensures I have eaten well, picks me up from the airport, drops me off at home safely whenever I need, and asks me at random times if I need anything when he is passing along my house, just like a father would for his child.
I remember that my mom once told me, that I know how to win hearts. I didn’t quite understand what that sentence meant until today while I was writing this. My acquaintances always asked me why people help me or how I get so much free stuff. The answer lay in the question itself. Just help people out because you want to help them, not as a favor or obligation, and certainly don’t expect anything in return. You will either get a person for life or a lesson for life.
People are inherently good; circumstances and situations make them do things they are not okay with. We are the artisans of our destiny.
Living alone teaches you a lot of things. I’ve lived alone most of my life, and it’s peaceful. Sometimes, I fear being too comfortable living and doing everything independently for good. It’s hard not to think if I am normal. Everywhere I see, people are desperate for attention and relations. I audited many psychology courses and read books more than my sister ever did for her classes. It says that humans are not afraid of being alone; they are scared of being lonely. Loneliness is a feeling of the human mind to think that nobody cares about them.
People usually confuse both and land themselves in depression.
So yes, death does not scare me even if I come wrapped in a body bag in this space or astronaut candidacy journey. We all know the risks of this journey. We chose this path for a reason. It is not for the faint-hearted. Astronauts hang it out there every single time they go up. They know that any of those flights can be their last.
It is a one-way ticket. But you don’t divert the course of the mission because people die. Every single person who goes into space knows the odds of returning, and yet they put their life on the line. I have no right to do any less than them.
I know it sounds mean, rude, or selfish, but not many will miss me. Life has somehow reduced the impact of my grenade for better or worse on its own. Because of this, I feel free and reckless to take risks and push the boundaries of my comfort zone every day. If death does arise in pushing the boundaries of science for the greater good, what better way is there to die?
A lot of astronauts have rocky relationships. Having family and close ones who constantly worry about you must be hard. Children who look up to you and wait for you to return. On the other hand, I don’t have anything to worry about in that aspect.
This is it. This is life. Space is life for better or worse.
Primarily for the better.