Anna paid no heed to the bored voice of the instructor. In other times she would have listened intently, would have considered and reconsidered over and over in her head the numerous risks of the ridiculous sport she was going to participate in. She’d never really been a risk-taker.
But right now, at this moment, she needed something, anything, to bring meaning back to her life again. The bland white walls of the hospital had sucked the happiness out of her like a black hole. She needed an escape from the enormous amount of grief that hung heavily over her shoulders, like a dark cloud that refused to go away.
Her heart ached at the memory of her daughter — playing, laughing, and then her small, frail body lying on the hospital bed like a lifeless lump, her face so familiar yet so indistinguishable. Anna yearned to fill the void her sweet Tessa had left behind.
Her therapist had suggested this — an adventure, an adrenaline rush to “help all that grief to evaporate” — as Dr. Harper had so poetically put it.
“Okay, so everyone’s ready?” the instructor’s voice snapped Anna out of her aimless thoughts.
Everyone mumbled a yes, and she did the same.
Anna got on the helicopter, and observed the two other people who were there with her. What were they doing this for? Were they trying to fill some kind of void as well?
“So who wants to go first?” the instructor chirped.
A pale, old woman raised a bony hand, then put on the safety jacket and in the flash of a second, she was gone. The other person in the helicopter — a young man of about 20 who looked like he was just there for the rush, enthusiastically followed suit.
The instructor’s brown eyes now looked at Anna, and she knew what was coming.
Her palms suddenly sweaty and clammy, and legs ten times heavier, she put on the safety jacket. Her heart did a somersault and shivers ran to the very marrow of her bones as she looked downwards at the Peridot specks that she assumed were trees, obscured by mists of clouds.
“… pull the plug, and the parachute will open”, the instructor droned on.
“Are you listening, miss?” he asked.
Anna answered with a mindless nod.
Then she was off in a whoosh. The wind, blocking out all sounds, and her carefully tied braid opening in a tangle of brown hair.
Anna closed her eyes.
She felt like she was floating, and that she could finally escape. All the grief and sadness did evaporate into thin air and for the first time in weeks, she smiled.
Her body felt light as a feather — falling, to wherever life took her, like a boat on the vast seas, untamed and unshackled. All the ‘what ifs’ from just moments before were long gone from her head, leaving only the exciting and exhilarating feeling of this moment, right here.
She felt as if a cloud of happiness was surrounding her, cushioning her from any fear. Right at that moment, she felt like she could do anything. Felt like she could finally move on.
She pulled the plug and the parachute opened up above her. For a moment, she thought of herself as dove, migrating to a state of utter euphoria. A strange feeling overcame her, and she burst into a fit of giggles, her body now liberated from the tight grasps of loss. She welcomed with wide arms, the adrenaline coursing through her veins, and the rush it brought along with it.
Then she was descending, at a dangerous velocity, and nearing the ground. Seconds later, she was tumbling onto the soft grass. Though the void in her heart was not yet filled, the exhilarating experience had given her life direction and brought new meaning. Now Anna walked away a stronger woman, more ready to face the world than she ever was before.