The Memorial Jump

Memorial 013
Originally uploaded by Maggiejumps.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever;
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness.
-- Keats, Endymion. Book i.

Saturday was a rainy morning that turned into a gray afternoon, thick with clouds. But we had a memorial jump to do, one last gift for Sean.

I was scared to go on this jump. Scared that I would fail on such an important jump. Scared that I wouldn't do it justice. Scared that I wouldn't be able to force myself out that door.

I prayed silently on the way to altitude. I looked out the window every so often and had to keep shoving my heart back in my chest. At 14,000 feet, we clasped hands and prayed for Sean, for his family, for his memory.

There were eight of us, plus a videographer. We formed a circle and gripped each other tightly by the wrists. We held that for several thousand feet, through ice crystals pelting us in the face, through damp mist, through the crackling wind.

At 6,000 feet, about the same altitude at which the accident occured, I turned and flew away from the group. I shoved my hands down by my sides, pointed my toes, and curled my shoulders forward until I shaped my body into a wing. I could feel my limbs cup the air, and I shot through the sky faster than I ever have before. Behind me, the group had kept my space open to recognize the missing man on the jump.

I deployed. After a few more seconds, I heard the snap of the other parachutes opening up in the sky around me.

It was a gorgeous jump. So stark and so simple and so beautiful. I wish the world could have seen it.

When I landed, all of us grabbed and hugged at each other. I wrapped myself around my boyfriend Jason, and he held on so tight I thought he'd never let go. He left one side of my face and arm wet with tears. He could see every bit of it from the ground except for the end, when his eyes were spilling over.

Dad Steve, our pilot, circled the plane around the landing area three times before heading west in tribute.

Almost immediately after the jump, the clouds were swept from the sky and left behind a brilliant blue summer day. We thanked Sean for the weather. It was as if he cracked the sky open.

Later there was an accuracy contest, because Sean always loved accuracy. There was another memorial jump, which turned out as perfect as the first one. That was followed by a cookout -- ribs, cooked with Sean's secret concoction for BBQ sauce. I don't know how they got the recipe.

In all, the dropzone raised about $900 for Sean's widow and children on Saturday, which lifted my heart in about 10 different ways.

It was a difficult and emotional day. But it turned out to be just like the sky.

Gray turned into blue.

« Home | Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »

» Post a Comment