Free Fallin’

For his 30th birthday in 2008, I threw Chad a surprise party.
It was the first birthday he’d celebrated after finding out about IT, and we had so many people who wanted to help celebrate with us.
He was shocked to see so many people had shown up.
It was the first, and only, time that I was able to keep a secret from him.

He received a gift certificate for skydiving.
He had been talking about it for some time – especially since we found out about IT and started compiling the Bucket.
He planned a day to jump, but it was rescheduled due to high winds that particular day.
Then our lives became so chaotic that he never got the chance to go.
It was neatly written on the “to do” list on our fridge for years.
I swore it was an activity I would never, ever, EVER do with him.
“I will never do that. Period.”

Never say “never”.

I checked skydiving off Chad’s Bucket List this past weekend.
Here are a few pictures – enjoy!
I will have more pictures and a video in the coming days…I’ll post those when I get a chance.

Lisa, my mom & I with one of the photographers – all suited up!

When I get nervous, I laugh. A lot.

Still waiting…strangely enough, I wasn’t a ball of nerves at this point.
I was just ready to go!

Finally headed up!

This is actually Lisa dangling from the plane. Crazy!

And this is Lisa, again, falling! Isn’t that intense?!?!

This is probably my favorite picture! That look on my face is so genuine.
I had to force myself to look. And then that stupid look was plastered on my face
for a while because I just couldn’t move anything, not even my facial expressions!

I relaxed a bit!

Wink, my photographer, grabbed my hand and we started spinning.
Not too fast – but it was definitely a crazy experience…

I love this picture too!

I survived!

And so did my mom!

Each time someone asks me about the experience, only one word comes to mind: AMAZING!

I will not lie;  I was scared out of my mind. I couldn’t even think about it for a few days leading up to it without knots forming in my throat and tummy.
I checked the weather forecast Wednesday or Thursday, hoping the jump might be called off due to rain. Or wind. Or something weathery that would make jumping from an airplane a bad idea.

As I realized that the weather was supposed to be perfect on Saturday, I just went with it.
I’m doing this.
It’s coming up very soon!
And it will be fine.
It will be fine.
It will be fine….

And it was!
We had a slight delay because there was an issue with the plane; a malfunctioning wheel or something.
We made jokes with the staff and had a great time as we calmed our nerves.
When it was finally our turn to jump, everything went kinda fast – which is good. We didn’t have time to think about what the heck we were doing!

My mom and one of my dearest friends, Lisa, and I all crammed inside a plane with many “professional” skydivers — at least that’s what they told us!
A few student divers went out first.
And then it was Lisa’s turn – you actually see her dangling and then falling out of the plane in the pictures above.
Then it was my turn and it just happened SO fast. I saw her fall and suddenly, I was right behind her.
That first step was a doozy.
I literally thought to myself, “WHAT did I just do? I am falling like a piece of lead through the sky! I want to go home. NOW.”
Of course, those thoughts were brief because my instructor started talking and giving instructions. The photographer grabbed my hand and all three of us spun around like a top. It was so much fun!
I could barely open my eyes and I couldn’t close my mouth or smile. I couldn’t even move my arms/hands/legs for a bit – the force was crazy!

But then…
I dropped through a cloud. I touched it – even though there was really nothing to touch.
I was IN a cloud.
That’s all I can say.

When the chute was pulled, the harness jerked me erect and everything went silent. We just floated. And chatted. I got to steer for a little while. I could see everything and hear nothing. It was…well, amazing.

I closed my eyes and soaked it in for a moment or two.
It was breath-taking.
And I know Chad would have loved it.
I can see him landing, fists pumping in the air, and yelling, “WOOOOOOOOoooooooo!”, like he always did with an adrenaline rush.
And I’m sure he would have wanted to do it again.
Which is what I plan to do, too.

I have plans to get a lot of things checked off the List in the next year; and I’m not sure if anything will measure up to this experience…but I’m going to find out!

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