Always KNOW where that deployment handle is for your PARACHUTE.
And, KNOW that even if we successfully pull it, life may have something different in store for us.
My son enters Appalachian State University this Fall. We both have been feeling the impending change. For the last few months we have been creating moments, rites of passage, to commemorate one of the most significant life changes – leaving home.
On our last mother/son, pre-college excursion, a trip to Los Angeles in July, we got some ink. Yes, we went to a tattoo establishment in Venice Beach and took the plunge. We each chose completely different art, selecting a design which spoke to us as individuals. But the shared experience was by mutual design. It was a wonderful bonding moment.
It’s been a weirdly emotional, not-so-sure-how-to-feel time for us both. Last minute “Let’s get dim sum one more time.” or “Let’s have one last family dinner.” have punctuated an otherwise mostly normal few weeks.
At the eleventh hour, we scheduled one more… “Let’s….”.
My godson turned 18 August 8th and he asked to skydive. He requested my son join him and I immediately had two responses:
- No way my kid is jumping out of an airplane without me … as if I could protect him.
- Hey, what a great “Let’s….”
Best Laid Plans:
“Scheduled… now, there’s a word that makes me giggle.”
Every minute counts as they prepare to fly the coop. The only time slot available for the jump was the same day that we were scheduled to drive 3ish hours to Boone, NC in preparation for his move-in day/time at App. State.
I took it as a sign. How kuel to have two drop zones… the first, at Triangle SkyDiving Center… the second, his dorm room. The schedule was tight. Some may think it’s crazy to work so hard to fit in one more “Let’s…” But, that’s the way we roll around here.
Scheduled… now, there’s a word that makes me giggle. Yes, it was on my schedule. Yes, we had the logistics very well laid out. The skydiving facility was an hour away and in the wrong direction, but we figured it out. Cars packed. Family members at the ready to make all this happen, smoothly.
Needless to say that word “scheduled” has a whole new meaning to me now. I never made it to the second drop zone.
I am on a different journey now than the one I had “scheduled”. A skydiving accident completely derailed me and I am once again reminded of how little control we have over our lives.
Given that this was my third jump — after two skydives brought on by an existential crisis when I turned 30 many, many years ago — my tandem instructor last week was comfortable with me actively participating in the jump. Donned with an altimeter and clear instructions to pull the chute when we fell to 6,000 feet, I climbed aboard the plane.
“That “perfect” jump ended abruptly when my body slammed to earth seconds later.”
The jump was incredible. Not only did I get to deploy the parachute, he let me fly us around in free fall and handed over the controls to the parachute once fully open. It was an incredible experience. Everything was going perfectly, smoothly, and on schedule.
Until it wasn’t.
The Universe, on its own schedule, decided differently. That “perfect” jump ended abruptly when an errant gust of wind blew us violently off-course mere feet above the ground and my body slammed to earth seconds later. As my tailbone smacked the ground and I heard the cracking of bones, I realized that my scheduled life had instantly derailed. Immediately, thoughts soared into my brain: “I have f-ed up the rest of my life… I just paralyzed myself.”
I am not paralyzed. But, I have a long road to recovery with three compression fractures to my spine.
I didn’t get to the second drop zone. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to my son as he left for college. Thankfully, his Dad is a rock star and managed the whole excursion on his own. Strangely enough, what hurts more than my back at times is the fact I didn’t get to make my son’s bed at school. I didn’t get to put his clothes in their respective drawers… underwear, t-shirts, sweaters, etc.. As if they would stay in those anyway.
“Now I find myself facing an odyssey not of my choosing.”
Instead I spent 20 hours in the Emergency Room and now face quite a journey.
A mere three days ago I knew exactly where I was going and how I was getting there. Now I find myself facing an odyssey not of my choosing. But it’s unavoidable. I don’t get to pick a different one.
So, now what?
I invite you all to join me in this pilgrimage back. If you are struggling with one of life’s many setbacks, reach out. We can do this together!
I’ll be documenting my lessons earned, along with my frustration, anger, sadness, and moments of victory in the hopes that it can help someone else. If I can inspire one person who might be feeling overwhelmed with their own interruption to their regularly scheduled programming, it will be worth it for me.