We listed all utility numbers passwords and authorizations, we wrote our wills. I had to choose my Casualty Assistance Calls Officer (CACO) and a backup, who would knock at the door (before the media does) if David died in space. I briefed him on how I wanted the news broken, and I had him track my phone so he would always know where to get me. I remember this CACO file on our desk for a few days. After we felt confident about our decisions, it went to live in Mission Control, and we moved on.
For a while, everything was tinted with the knowledge that David may not come back. Sometimes I was scared, mostly as we were working through contingency planning, but once it was all sorted out – I came to accept the risk. The fear, somehow, mostly dissipated. I was able to be a positive, proactive and serene mission team member. I was able to support my husband through his own journey. Astronaut families have a hard time protecting young kids from footage of exposing spacecraft, and bystanders who like to comment on the perils of space-living, but all my kids really cared about was how I was feeling. They looked up to me. David looked up to me. The whole team looked up to us. At some point in contingency preparation, we all came to peace, and moved along towards mission objectives.
Things I did in stressful times:
- No screens in the evenings
- No more news
- Decaffeinated my life (!)
- Sleep time was protected
- I watched Mr. Bean
- Danced with the kids, played ball and board games
- Sang in the car (again, no news!)
- Kept in close contact with friends