I was going to jump out of an airplane yesterday.
Something about the temperatures at jump altitude kept me grounded, but I was going until I got that call.
When I started making the plans I picked March 3rd as the day. It would have been brother Mark’s 51st birthday. He and I used to have dinner and call each other old on our birthdays. The last three without him have been decidedly less celebratory.
I wanted to celebrate this year.
Skydiving is not something my brother would have done. I’m fairly certain he would have found colorful ways to call me an idiot for doing it. You see, when he died I told myself I wouldn’t mark the anniversaries - I didn’t want to be one of those people that said things like “four years ago today…” yet, without fail, the day he died, his birthday, and my birthday seem to glow like heated iron off the calendar pages.
The skydiving was about me. Sometime just recently I’ve had the realization that there is cause to celebrate the life I have left ahead of me, the rest of my life, without him. That was a hard realization to swallow. Never mind that making his birthday about me made me sound like an unbelievable narcissist.
Mark was a teacher and a poet, and he was often asked to read at weddings or other important public gatherings, he had the gift of fitting profound feelings into just a few lines. Mark joked that he kept those poems brief because he wanted to get out of the church before god realized who was in his house. I don’t have his gift. I wish I did. In my life extreme emotion has always been answered with physical exertion. I think skydiving will be my poem to him about how grateful I am to have been loved by such a great man. It will be about gratitude and letting go of the bottomless pit of hurt and sadness and about hanging on to the best parts of him; the lessons he taught me about everything from Geometry to our own family history.
No, that wasn’t a tense error. I’m still going to jump.
Maybe I'll think of my own colorful ways to call myself an idiot on the way down.