Cliff Diving

I hyperventilate on ferris wheels. My children made fun of me endlessly after a trip to Disney world. “Mommy cried on the ferris wheel,” they told everyone. I was embarrassed. My husband is the opposite. He can balance on the edge of a sky scraper (and has) with no fear.

I’ve tried to overcome this. I’ve gone rock climbing, and cliff diving. I’ve sat on the edge of sky scrapers and forced myself to look down. The shaking is uncontrollable, But I won’t let fear win, so I went skydiving and that’s when I learned something interesting. I’m not afraid of jumping out of a plane. It made no sense. After the parachute opened and I was floating peacefully down, I said to the instructor strapped to my back, “Fun fact; I’m terrified of heights.”

“Are you afraid now?” He asked, and I said no. He went on to tell me he’s also been afraid of heights his whole life, but observed people like us, frequently aren’t afraid of planes, or skydiving. He theorized perhaps our brains are unable comprehend that great a depth. Since then I’ve thought about this long and hard.

Once on vacation, I looked over the edge of a boat down into the endless deep sea and realized it went on forever. I felt fear just for a second, like a flicker, but then it was gone. The depth was too much for me to take in.

So maybe it’s to be expected I’m too scared to speak when someone’s dying. Yet I laugh at funerals and cry at weddings. Theres a fine line between overwhelmed and incomprehensible.

Recently I rode a ferris wheel all the way to the top and said goodbye to a dear friend in hospice. I was terrified to see him and googled what to talk about when someone’s dying. I settled on reading a list of jokes, or trivia so I couldn’t say anything dumb. But when I arrived I just stuttered and mumbled awkward apologies for not knowing what to say. He looked at me with complete understanding and told me there were no words and that was fine. For the first time, I felt like we were sitting on the edge of a cliff together looking down, but instead of fear, all I felt was love. I don’t know what’s down there. I don’t know how far it is. I wish no one had to jump alone. But we will all be together in the end and I will never let that fear win again.

5 thoughts on “Cliff Diving

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  1. I love your stories….I relate to them in so many ways….this one really touched my heart.
    P.S. I love you💖

  2. This made me cry-I can relate in so many ways-a fear of heights-the inability to speak when someone is dying. I love how you brought them together in the end. Thank you.

  3. And by the way I am so impressed that you jumped from a plane-my stomach drops to think about it. Incredible to face your fear like that.

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