My dear love,
It is difficult to say what I have to tell you. But you must know. This is why I'm writing this letter, coward as it may be.
I love you. I have always loved you and been at your side. We have been happy all these years together, notwithstanding the problems in this dying Earth. But in the last ten years life has become ever and ever tougher. Scavenging something to eat, struggling to find a job... even that is nowadays an insurmountable task. And finding fuel to heat the house in winter is almost impossible. Not to talk about the constant need to dodge the fate, to outwit the death, following you into every street, lurking behind an unknown face. And all that violence... I am worried for our surviving children, for our grandchildren. Is this the world we leave them?
But let's get to the point. What was that I had to tell you? Do you remember when we used to look at the sky so many years ago? I showed you the constellations and talked you about the stories, the Greek myths, they concealed. “Do you see that constellation like a bow-tie? It's Orion. It encloses in its heart the most beautiful nebula, the horsehead nebula. One of nature's masterful works of art, decorated with cyan stars and rose clouds of hydrogen gas.” Ah, “Space, the final frontier.” History hasn't followed the path of Star Trek films...
Do you start to understand where I'm getting at? The ISS HANIWA, the last hope of humanity. Yes, I admit it, I have handed in my application. Yes, I am old, and it will be excruciatingly painful to depart from all of you, to depart from you. Which where those verses by Ausiàs March? “Així com cell qui es parteix de sa terra, / ab cor tot ferm que jamés hi retorn, / deixant amics e fills plorant entorn / e cascú d'ells a ses faldes s'aferra / dient plorant: 'Anar volem ab vós. / Oh, no ens deixeu trists e adolorits!' /e l'és forçat aquells haver jaquits: / ¿Qui pot saber d'aquest les grans dolors?”1,2 But I have to go. I need to do something useful while I still have some years of life left. I cannot live any more in this desperation. Someone has to remind those few people selected to embark on this adventure that many more will be left behind. Partners and friends, brothers and sisters, parents and children... Something must be done to tidy up this old Earth a little bit.
I don't know yet if I have been chosen. If I am among the elected ones, this will be my personal mission: to make sure the discoveries and successes of this travel are used to improve the world we are leaving behind. In the end, as a scientist, this has always been my aim. If I am not elected, I will continue to fight beside you for a better life, for as long as it is possible. In any case I am rooted to the Earth and bound to you. It won't be difficulties nor distance that will break these ties.
I love you. Always.
1English translation by Angela Buxton: “Like the one who leaves his country / with the heart determined never to return, / leaving friends and children weeping, each one holding onto his legs / crying: 'We want to go with you. / Oh, don't leave us sad and sorrowful!' / and he is forced to leave them: who can know this one's great suffering?”
2French translation by Miquel Pujadó: “Semblable à celui qui abandonne sa terre / décidé fermement à ne plus jamais y revenir, / laissant ses amis et ses enfants pleurant autour de lui, / et qui s'accrochent à ses habits / disant en pleurs: 'Nous voulons partir avec vous. / Oh, ne nous laissez pas tristes et endoloris!' / et il est forcé de les abandonner: / qui peut savoir les douleurs que cet homme-là éprouve?”