You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy
Falling 50 feet.
I don’t know all the details. I don’t know how it happened exactly. I only know that life is moment by moment and sometimes all you can say is Thank God.
My niece fell from a chair lift recently. I’m not sure how she slipped. I only know that in the blink of an eye – what was important – is hardly important.
We learned of the accident through a text. It was a group text. My sister sent it. How do you even write a text like that? Hers was calm and crazy at the same time.
It starts by saying “Just so you all know…”
It describes a 50 foot fall from a chair lift and a little girl breaking both legs.
The words literally made me gasp.
The good news is no surgery is required. My niece requires bed rest, perhaps a month in 2 casts. And just like that, hopefully, she should be good as new.
2 broken legs. It’s horrible. But it could have been so much worse.
A head injury? Back fracture? Paralysis?
It’s truly amazing that my energized little niece only broke her legs.
And that’s life. One moment you are raising the bar preparing for a run down the hill, your mind on what side of the mountain to enjoy.
The next moment, you blink, and suddenly you are free falling and hitting at a concussive velocity. You are looking up, in pain, crying, wondering what happened and will you be ok?
Once I knew my niece was ok, I tried to lighten her mood. I told her she now holds the family record for the family’s farthest fall. I laughed. I don’t think she did.
In college, I purposely jumped off a 3 story building into the deep end of a 7 foot pool. The decision to jump from 30 feet off a perfectly good building is still a life moment that makes me wonder, What the hell was I thinking?
It was a ridiculous stunt. Unlike my niece, I chose this ridiculous course of action. I remember pushing off the loose, rusty gutter. I remember it bending back as I pushed forward. Uh Oh! How will that affect my trajectory my brain quickly asked.
But it was too late. I was airborne.
I remember the sound of gravel sliding under foot. How much gravel slid? How did that affect my trajectory, my descent? Did I push hard enough? Far enough?
The sudden realization that my weight had shifted from the roof to air was instantaneous. I was suddenly at the whim of vectors and directional forces I hadn’t truly considered. I was suddenly enveloped by a lot of different stimuli. It was night. It was warm. There was wind and palm trees and people screaming from the pool deck.
It all happened in the blink of an eye, but in that moment, time stood still.
I remember being in the middle of air, about 10 foot from the roof. I remember looking back at my friend who said he was going to jump when I counted us down. He didn’t. He would later tell me he needed to see if I would be killed first. Nice!
I remember wondering how far away is the pool? Do I have enough thrust to clear the umbrella and deck furniture and the lip of the deep end. Did my foot slip when I pushed off the edge? Did that effect my flight? What if I hit the concrete racing up at me on this warm Southern California night?
I remember having more time to ponder more things than you might expect in the blink of an eye.
I clear the ledge and strike the water forcefully, my body slamming into the bottom of the pool. My legs buckle, as my knees smash into my chin like an upper cut. 7 foot of water is not a lot of water when you leap from 30 feet.
I see stars. My first urge is to gasp, but somehow, I remember not to breathe, 7 feet under. I take a moment, allowing the stars to dissipate. I feel a pain in my chin. I’m unsure if I’m injured. My first thought is get to the surface.
I push through the envelope of water and gulp air. I hear my heart beat and water dripping in my ears. It fades as I hear a splash then applause and laughter from friends and frat brothers attending the keg pool side.
And that was it. Another dumb night in a myriad of dumb – often forgettable nights.
But that 30 foot fall has always lingered, throughout the years.
It lasted a moment, but the what ifs still make me shudder.
What if I had not cleared the pool deck? What if I had hit the cement? What if I cracked my spine or worse.
My niece tells me that her fall was more like a dream. She says the fall wasn’t scary but the landing was. She said she felt pain in her boots and then the horrific realization that she was hurt.
I’m glad she is going to recover quickly and she is in such good spirits considering the horrific nature of the accident.
Her fall reminds me that life can change in the blink of an eye.