As I drive towards Spirit River, Alberta on a beautiful Friday morning, my heart is calm like the weather before a major storm, but my mind is racing 100 miles per hour, full of excitement.
I am a C 6/7 quadriplegic and I have always been afraid of heights, but I have “jumped” at the challenge that our Peer Event Coordinator, Brian, has given to me. All my friends think I am crazy, but, yes, I have agreed to go skydiving!
As I get closer and closer to Spirit River, my heart starts to race as fast as my mind … my excitement turns into determination … my fear turns into eagerness. Having my sister and my nieces on the journey with me really helps.
As I pull into the airport, I see a parked plane … and then it hits me …“I am about to face my biggest fear; I’m about to do something that I would not even do when I was able-bodied … I’M ABOUT TO JUMP OUT OF A PLANE AT 10,000 feet!” But there is no time to waste and no chance to back out; this is a once in a lifetime experience. I put on my best smile and bravely join the rest of my group, 5 guys with spinal cord injuries and all just as crazy as me. Thus, “the Crip Club Jumpers” are born.
I never imagined I would be the first to jump, but when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. “Life is for us to enjoy, to challenge, and to overcome” I think to myself; “ … let this girl show the boys how it’s done.”
As I am getting strapped into the harness, as everyone watches me as I watch them, my mind and heart is as calm as the forest in winter. “This is it …” I think, “… as long as I don’t go splat, this might just be the best experience of my life.” As I put on a dorky helmet and goggles, I giggle and a thought comes to me. “Someone really needs to design better looking gear for the participants to wear.” As two guys pick me up by my harness and place me in the tiny aircraft, my determination and eagerness falter a little. As the aircraft door closes and we are increasing in altitude, my mind was cursing at me in every language that I knew. Then I saw a round rainbow and the sunset …. When the aircraft door opens and a gush of wind knocks me back, my heart cringes and my mind screams out: “OMG, what have you gotten us into!?” And then I am out of the plane and free falling ….
… I do not scream …
… I do not close my eyes …
… I do not breathe for a few moments …
… wow …
The sky is within my reach, the sunset kisses my cheeks, the wind massages my body … the sky is the limit.
For a few seconds, my arms are wide open and I reach out for the horizon, my eyes closed to feel the sky, feel the earth and feel the power that assisted me to get to that moment … I am pretty sure I have found peace and serenity.
As I land back onto earth again … I feel something missing; I think I left my heart in the sky.
I hope you enjoyed going on this skydiving journey with me. It is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and you need to experience it for yourself, in order to truly feel the moment of serenity I felt. This journey taught me a lesson as well: “Do not judge or fear the unknown until you experience it for yourself; we have more strength in all of us than we give ourselves credit for.”
So, now, I dare you to try something new … the sky is the limit.
Publish in Spinal Column fall 2011