Linenger's Letters to his Son

March 24, 1997
Pain helps imprint things"

Dear John:

Another good day up here in space. It is amazing how much one person can do in one day. By the end of the day I can barely remember what I did first thing in the morning (though, today, I remember: drew my blood. Pain helps imprint things a bit more firmly, I suppose).

Heard that you are going on a trip. Traveling is great, and you always loved heading off with Mommy and me, no matter where we took you.

First I held you in a front carrier; kept you under my big blue down- filled coat to protect you from the Russian winter. You would just snuggle up and sleep. I'd peep in now and then to make sure you were safe and sound. What I remember of St. Petersburg: the Hermitage, strolling Nevski Prospect, and eating ice cream cones, though it was below freezing. (Hey--they were selling on the street like crazy--we'd shiver and eat 'em like everyone else). You probably remember bouncing up and down inside a blue cloth cave.

You then graduated to my back. Man, you loved it up there. Looking around at the sights, pulling on my ears like reins on a horse. And whenever you saw a dog, you'd woof woof (sorta) and your eyes would grow big. Your baseball hat never stayed on your head more than two or three minutes, unless I could distract you somehow. Czar John, we'd call you, up on your throne.

Well, I'm traveling alone now. More than 25,000,000 miles and counting. I could carry you all day up here--you'd be light as a feather. If you didn't pull on my ears, I wouldn't even know you were there.

Think I'd rather have tired legs at the end of the day, and feel your little tired head plopped down on the back of my shoulder. I'd pull you gingerly out of your pack, lay you in your crib, cover your up, and say a little prayer for you.

Good night John. Though I won't be able to cover you up tonight, you'll still be, as always, in my prayers.


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