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St. Basil's Cathedral







311 days, 20 hours and one minute. I would have kept tracking down to the second, but that would have been redundant. . . Just a little old school Soviet humor. I've been called the last citizen of the Soviet Union.


My name is Sergei Krikalev, and that is precisely how long I was stranded in space as a Soviet Cosmonaut aboard the Mir Space Station back in 1991 and 1992 when my mother country, the USSR, fell apart. Now it seems the whole world is falling apart. Today’s world is not the same as it was back then. Post 911, the world is a scary place—so much turmoil and hatred. But there are pockets of goodness, hope and even undying love still on Earth, even if they happen to sometimes be in space.


As I look up into the north sky tonight, I am reminded of another view of those same bright stars that lit my way to sanity while stuck in space. Here is my story as read from my diary to my lovely wife Lena back on Earth. It is a story of love, longing and hope for all true romantics and white-knuckle optimists, of which I am one.


Diary Entry March 11th 1992

Man Without a Country, Man Without a Bride.


My Dearest Lena,


Here I sit aloft among the stars of Heaven in orbit aboard Space Station Mir. A groom without a bride, bastardized by my mother country—a country no more. Rejected and forgotten, I float among the Heavenlies. In small part, I share a common tear with God: Without our bride’s love to share, the splendor and majesty of the universe is just a resounding gong.


Launched on a mission I was, one of great hope, but long ago done. And now, like a laboratory rat at the end of an experiment, I sit and wait. Caged and confined, to what end I know not. I only know, without you, I’m but half a man. Confused and alone, quarantined in the still of cold, black space. Separated by quantum leaps because of quantum physics. Einstein, you whom I grew to respect, I’ve grown to hate in my despair.


    My only consolation among the constellations is my continual orbit around the Earth. Sixteen times a day I behold the most stupendous sunrises and sunsets, each one different from the last, painted in living colors by the stroke of its creator's brush. Like fingers, the morning sun stretches its morning rays up through the greenest greens and bluest blues. It dances and sparkles its way across the deepest oceans, searching and darting along rivers and lakes. It makes its way to the skies splitting through the clouds in a thousand directions, igniting them in brilliant whites. With spectacular finality, through the atmospheric dust it filters bursting through like a prism reflecting the splendor and fullness of the color spectrum.


    To call it only a rainbow is so unjust. It’s as though God himself smiles down to awaken the face of the Earth. A face comparable to only one other. One upon, even now as I sit, I gaze and meditate. A face like mine, captured in time and space. Framed by the starboard porthole, where I keep your picture safe. Endlessly, the stars waltz around your head like a halo’d gift from above. The morning sun sets your flame red hair on fire. At night, the fullest moon above glistens in your eyes, deeper and bluer than the oceans below.


    As I look into those eyes, I long to gaze together heavenward beneath the full winter moon. Such thoughts send shivers down my spine. The blustery winds and snow topped hills I miss. The leafless trees, warmth and smell of a crackling fire, and freshly baked bread, but mostly your naked body, the warmth of your skin and the aroma of your perfume, I truly miss.


    My Dearest Lena, though separated for a season, as sure as seasons change, as sure as the sun will set, I promise with a vow upon each other our eyes will rest. And together again we will surely be. With Passionate love, your humble, lofty husband









I challenge you, the next time you look up at those same stars, realize that the only thing you can take with you when you leave this Earth permanently is the memories. Go build some lofty memories with those you love…


Sergei Krikalyov


Deforest Shields

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