I hated that tiny plane. It was too small and turbulent. Claustrophobic. There were 5 of us in a plane that would have normally sat 3 comfortably. I watched two men zip open the plane door and then jump out, one after the other. Then it was just the pilot and me, and the instructor I was attached to. It was our turn to jump next.
Because I was in front, I had to step out of the plane and onto the wing first. It was terrifying. I was frozen. My hands were shaking. The GoPro caught me praying, taking large uneven breaths. I didn’t want to let go of the frame of the plane. The instructor peeled my hands free and hooked his legs around mine and forced me to let go. My climbing on the wing and the jump off the plane took about 3-4 seconds. It was 3-4 of the LONGEST seconds of my life.
Why in the hell would someone jump out of a perfectly good plane? Good question.
I have a fear of heights. I have a big fear of heights. My legs wobble and shake when I stand on the ladder to decorate the top half of the Christmas tree. I need backup when I change the light bulb in a ceiling light. Up until a year and a half ago I would say that it was my biggest personal fear.
I’ve always been someone who has been fearless when it comes to other people and my future and career. I see what I want and I go after it. I see injustices and I work to fix them. I take care of people and empower them to take care of themselves. If there is a problem I work to find the solution. I’m a tell-it-like-it-is, no nonsense, no drama, organized, Type-A kind of girl. I know what my calling in life is and I work hard to fulfill my mission everyday. That was all I was focused on.
A year and a half ago I was diagnosed with NASH, stage 4 Cirrhosis. It’s a genetic disease and the diagnosis came out of nowhere. Without treatment options or a cure, I wasn’t left with anything to “fix”. There was no plan except the close monitoring with multiple scans and blood work. This is something that can go on for a very long time- if I’m lucky. If I’m not lucky, this is something that can take a turn for the worse at any moment and end my life.
I can’t begin to describe what it feels like to not have any control over what’s happening to you. I felt afraid- and I hated feeling afraid. I felt uncertain and out of control. I felt weak when my life was all about being brave and independent.
So I decided to jump out of a plane. If I could face my biggest fear by skydiving from a plane, then I could prove to myself that I could be courageous even though I was in a situation completely out of my control.
I placed my trust in the tandem instructor.
I had to have faith in the pilot.
Ultimately I had to believe in myself (and God!) that I could get thru it and I had to have hope that everything would work out.
And it did.
That small plane and crawling to stand on the edge of the open door at 10,000 feet was AWFUL. Diving from the plane was insane. The free-fall was exhilarating and empowering. After the parachute cord was pulled, there was sudden quiet. We glided over the earth for a very long time and it was amazing- so bright and so beautiful. I was looking at the world in HD and I was flying! The impact of what I was doing and were I was wasn’t lost on me. I had courage. I was brave. I was one flippen brave chick. I freaking did it! I did it and I didn’t die.
That’s what I needed to feel.
I will place my trust in my specialists.
I will have faith in my medical team.
I will believe in myself (and God!) that I will get thru this and have hope that everything will work out.
I can do this.