“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”Lao Tzu
I was at a routine dental appointment yesterday and, as the Doctor was being so kind as to adjust (and readjust) the chair for me to accommodate my still painful and still uncomfortable spinal injuries, he happened to ask me: “Are you ready to get back up in the sky this year?”
If you know me, everything in me wanted to scream “Yessss!”, as there is simply NOTHING that could ever compare to the ethereal feeling that skydiving provides… but, instead, I hesitated.
Later that day, I received the news of another skydiving accident involving a member of my skydiving family and, unfortunately, he did not survive. He leaves behind two children.
In this moment, as the reality of this set in, just as in the moment of my own skydiving accident when my body made impact with the ground, time seemed to stand still. I was stunned.
The fragility of Life repeatedly smacks me in the face, time and time again. I am not so ignorant as to believe that we are immortal. Death has impacted my life in more ways than I care to recount anymore, and my own experiences have made me realize that, no matter what we choose to face or take on, we are certainly not invincible either. My own injuries from skydiving being a key example.
The jump that injured me was “perfect” – by far, my best jump yet! However, in the final moments before my feet touched the ground, it all went horribly wrong. I did the best I could, and what I did do quite possibly saved my own life – but it still fractured my spine and shattered my wrist. It changed absolutely every single thing in my life for quite some time afterwards, as I underwent 2 surgeries, 30 scar treatments, and countless hours of physical therapy. My husband had to step up his role as partner, lover, and friend to now encompass personal caregiver responsibilities, as well. He helped bathe me, feed me, dress me, and fix my hair every morning – all while working his own fulltime job and assuming nearly all of the household cooking, cleaning, and shopping responsibilities. My friends and coworkers stepped up, as well, eager to assist in making my recovery process easier… even buttoning my pants after I’d used the restroom because doing so with just one fully functioning hand is most definitely a learned skill! (Go ahead and laugh… but, for me, the reality attached to the remembering of these moments has me far from laughter.)
I consider myself quite lucky. It has been 9 months since my skydiving injuries occurred and I am finally making some real progress in regaining my previous level of physical strength and endurance. I’m finally back in the gym, despite the modifications that my injured body now requires. I am running regularly, as well… not nearly as fast or as far as I once was capable of, but frequent and consistent running, nonetheless. I am able to work, drive, and perform nearly all of my previous activities and responsibilities without significant difficulty and with minimal, if any, assistance. But I still hurt. Every single day has some level of physical pain attached to it. My body will never be the same. I am simply making the best of my new “normal”.
Somedays it gets to me. Somedays I feel frustrated, sad, and even a little bit sorry for myself. No one should ever have to live in pain. But this is the risk we take when deciding upon the interests, hobbies and activities we wish to pursue. And, in skydiving, it’s why you are required to sign a waiver – because things can happen, “up to and including your own death” – and, when they do, they happen so fast.
We all have a choice and we are all free to choose what is worthy of the risks that we take. Skydivers are no exception to this and, in fact, tend to take this truth a bit more seriously, despite the humor you will no doubtably see and hear exchanged around any dropzone. The reality is this – if we fully accept and internalize the fact of our own mortality, then, by definition, we have to deal with the essential questions of how we choose to live and spend our allotted time here on Earth. This, in turn, motivates us to stop procrastinating, pretending that we have forever to do what we want to do or be who we want to be and, instead, go out and make it all happen, never taking one single moment for granted… not even our very last.
*Attached below is the link to help fellow skydiver, David Medved’s family with covering the cost of his untimely funeral expenses. No amount is too small and every donation helps. Little by little, a little becomes a lot.
🪂Blue Skies, my friend…🤍#BSBD