It was customary for astronauts who were leaving Earth permanently to have a party and invite everyone they knew. A videographer typically went around recording goodbyes or any message a person may want the astronaut to know. It was not customary to leave a negative message even if the astronaut in question was what many might call a “dick”.
Gary Mikelson was assigned to a research vessel and would eventually reach the tip of the spiral in the Milky Way galaxy after a long, long hibernation. Gary was an astrophysicist with numerous licenses in programming and robotics. He was healthy, in his thirties, and had few strong attachments on Earth. At least, that is what he told the psychologists. In actuality, Gary was in love with Laura, a programmer at NASA who was married with two children. They had an affair for two months and it was the best two months of Gary’s life. Every meeting seemed shrouded in blissful lavender until, of course, his passion overwhelmed him.
Laura attended the party at Gary’s request. She was reluctant as she had ended their affair only a week prior when her husband became suspicious.
The videographer asked her about Gary. “He’s a great guy,” she said. “So smart, focused, passionate…I mean passionate about his profession and the future in the stars. Thank you, Gary, for being you.”
Gary did not see the video until he was already two weeks into space and one week away from deep hibernation. He replayed Laura’s words over and over. Passionate. She said passionate. Gary would always blush because he recalled the tangle of their limbs, her breathless moaning, the arching of her back. Laura was the only woman he had ever had so much pleasure with. Gary was filled with emotion. He would not have chosen to leave Earth if there was a possibility of a prolonged relationship with Laura. He replayed the video again and paid attention to her eyes. They glimmered and then the light died. She had ended their affair. Gary was not the great passion of her life though Laura was his.
As he laid in the pod and waited for the activation of hibernation, he thought of Laura. Deeply. A mess of hot memories flooded him. As the pod door closed, he felt a spike of panic.
“Earth attachment,” said Dr. Hoester. She was monitoring his vitals. “There is usually a spike before hibernation.”
“I think I’m in love,” said Gary.
Dr. Hoester smiled gently. “That’s Earth attachment, Gary. It causes panic and suffering. Let go. Float into the future. There is great comfort in feeling no attachment.”
“That is death.” Gary frowned. “No attachment is death.”
“In death is rebirth. Close your eyes and relax.”
Gary did as told and kept his inner eye on Laura. Would he still love her when he awoke 10,000 years from now? Would he long for her and Earth? Laura would be bones. A pile of bones he once loved 10,000 years ago but that would feel like a few weeks ago. No. He would not kill his attachment to Laura or even Earth. It is fine to suffer for love and to be filled with wistful longing. It was the most human of endeavors. Suffering.