Jumping Out a Plane, Queensland, New Zealand, by Le Grand Portage
Originally published on www.storiesworthsharing.net
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Meg asked dubiously.
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure at all, but I grinned with false bravado. “But of course,” I said in my best pseudo-French accent.
I turned quickly so Meg shouldn’t see my smile waver as I took in what I was about to do. I must truly be losing my mind to have agreed to this stunt–jumping out of a little bitty airplane armed only with an even smaller bit of silk? Yup, I was definitely losing it. But I had my pride. With all those classroom hours behind me and my friends gathered to watch me take the plunge, no way was I going to back out now.
“You okay?” the instructor paused to ask me. He looked concerned. My face must have been putrid green by then, and we hadn’t even left the ground. I swallowed the rising bile and nodded.
To hide my shaking limbs, I attempted a swagger towards the Fisher Price plane—would that small thing be strong enough to support my weight? Weather the winds? Stay up in the air? I nearly choked on the lump lodged deep in my throat.
I paused before boarding the plane with my instructor and waved wanly at all my family and friends gathered to see my last moments on earth. A rousing cheer startled a smile out of me. Don’t they say the show must go on?
Once on board, and safely out of sight, I was finally free to give in to my panic. The pilot turned to take a look at me.
“All systems go- you ready for takeoff?”
I didn’t even have the energy to glare at him. What did he think? Did I look ready for takeoff? Well, I guess I did, because he took off. I automatically turned to the La Maze breathing drilled into me years ago, my regular response to pressure, albeit of a different sort. Deep breath in, then blow it out. And again, deep breath in, and blow it out.
It actually worked; I could feel myself calming down. But then the pilot announced: 7500 feet.
“You ready? You’re jumping at 8.”
“I remember,” I croaked at my instructor.
Three, two, one, swoosh.
The earth in all its beauty unfolded before me as I soared like an overweight eagle in the postcard-blue sky. As my mind took in the magnificence around me, my spirits suddenly soared as well, empowered by all it saw. Although I’m pretty sure that my actually making the jump had something to do with that, too.
I watched the descent, and at the right moment, pulled to release my pink, bosom-shaped ‘chute emblazoned with the slogan: Check Your Bumps for Lumps. For a few seconds, all was still and quiet, except for the flippant snap and crackle of the “Breast Cancer, Take a Dive!” banner flapping in the breeze. Then the chants and whistles from the crowd below penetrated the stillness, the sounds and the slogans at odds with my peaceful descent. Yet somehow I knew that the moment’s serenity would stay to envelop me and lift me up when I returned to the hospital for the next round of treatments.