Dedicated To My Crew ~
You are still with me. I have traveled to different parts of the world in one year - Guam, India, and soon Israel.
Standing before the Taj Mahal, I take pride as I preciously cradle this picture of you in my hand. A beautiful, unique glass planet, created by Josh Simpson, here on Earth, displayed before one of the wonders of the world.
The sky, as blue as the day of launch. The day you disappeared from the naked eye into the vast universe. I pay tribute to you, the bravest of souls, completing your mission so that we on Earth can benefit.
KC showed me the discipline to pay attention to detail. I see more clearly the intricate beauty of our world in both nature and wildlife. And will always search deeper when looking at the view, hoping to see in the magical way that KC noticed the reflection of the earth in her own eye.
Envisioning the descriptions shared by Willie and Laurel as they orbited our planet, I try to experience the beauty every time I am travelling, soaring over the clouds, taking notice of the fading glow of a setting sun. Video captured a glint of light reflecting off of the wedding rings they proudly wore, Laurel's floating on a chain around her neck, and Willie wearing his wife Lani's on his right pinky. The light of their love for their spouses emanating from Space.
Every 90 minutes an alpha and omega. The sunrise - blue, yellow, orange a flash of red - and the day begins. The aurora australis appears like a diffused watercolor, lighting up the visible horizon. Now I take the time to feel their words as seen only from their vantage point.
From space, Ilan speaks of the beauty of Israel, a country of wealth and history, yet in passionate turmoil. A pride that guided him to the stars. He mentions his love for his family, and Rona, the love of his life, to the Prime Minister of Israel.
Dave, with his camera in an attempt to capture every moment of the mission. Our world and the universe as his backdrop, the vehicle Columbia and her crew as his subject. Driven to share this wondrous experience with those on Earth who eagerly await their return.
The jubilation in Michael's voice is heard as he thanks his girls for the wake up song - "Hakuna Matata" (from the Lion King) will always bring me joy. The last time I saw his smile, it radiated from the Columbia back to the screen to me at MCC. That memory of his smile will warm my heart forever.
As fate would have it, a picture of the crew floating in space returned safely to Earth. Rick's outstretched arms, as if he were supporting his crew in the weightlessness of space - a True Leader, a Great Human Being. His last e-mail to me from the Columbia expressed appreciation for my hard work towards their mission, Our Mission. He once wrote to me that I was his angel. Now I have seven guardian angels.
Enchanted with the memories - Rick, Willie, Ilan, Laurel, Dave, Mike and KC you will be with me always.