|First bloom of the season|
It's been a tough week for the skydiving community. Last weekend we lost three notable men, all of whom I knew about, and one whom I knew personally. I last saw Larry Elmore at the SOS record attempt at Lake Elsinore last month. He was just arriving as I was leaving, since I was there for the skills camp but not for the record attempt. He asked me why and I told him I'm just not skydiving enough to feel confident with so many other skydivers in the air. He admonished me to get lots of skydives this season and he would be seeing me here next year, wagging his finger in my face and smiling. Well, he won't be there. He had a canopy malfunction and tried too long to fix it and when he finally went to his reserve parachute, it was too late for it to inflate. He was a retired airline pilot and had more than 6800 skydives. It was very upsetting; if Larry could make such a mistake, anybody could.
Another skydiver, Cliff Schmucker, was the president of the Parachute Industry Association (PIA) and was extremely well known and current. He was struck in freefall by another skydiver and was apparently knocked out cold. His automatic opener deployed his reserve parachute. He landed in a tree but was unresponsive, probably killed by the impact on his head. Ken Oka was entangled in a canopy wrap and was unable to get free in time to save himself. It was an awful week for the skydiving community, as you can see.
Not to mention that there was another famous skydiver, Mike Truffer, who had an opening under his canopy that was hard enough to break his neck. He is now a quadriplegic. All four of these incidents happened over the Memorial Day weekend, and I was reeling from the news. I haven't been able to put these out of my mind.
And then a book I had on hold turned up at the library, which I have been anxiously waiting to read for months: Jodi Picoult's new book, The Storyteller. I started it two days ago. Not knowing anything about it, it is not one of her usual books, but an incredible story written about the Holocaust. In typical Picoult fashion, the story is told from the point of view of all the characters in the book. Here's a blurb from Jodi Picoult's website where she discusses the subject:
Naturally, this research was among some of the most emotionally grueling I’ve ever done. I met with several Holocaust survivors, who told me their stories. Some of those details went into the fictional history of my character, Minka. It was humbling and horrifying to realize that the stories they recounted were non-fiction.There was a period in my life when I read everything I could get my hands on about the Holocaust. I was a young mother and unable to wrap my mind around the whole idea of it. I've seen movies that haunted me, such as Schindler's List and Shoah. Since Picoult has just written the book this year and she deals with this subject, it's horrifying to me to learn that there are really people out there who believe that it never happened. How can that be? This book is essential reading, if you ask me, since most of the people who lived through it are very old now and will soon have passed away. Their stories must never be forgotten.
All this is just to let you know why I am writing about this here, today. I still have half the book to read, and I am not going to have a chance to do it today, since it looks like the weather will cooperate for me to go to Snohomish and play in the air with my friends. I really need to dispel the angst that permeates me right now. It means driving for a longer time than usual, since I will need to deal with the bridge that is out on I-5 on the way south, but it really seems important to gather with my friends and discuss the events of last weekend. It's my therapy group in a way.
I'm sorry to be in such a depressed state while I'm writing this, since I fear that many of my readers come here on Sunday morning for an inspirational hit. Perhaps it will be there next week, after I've gotten my knees in the breeze a time or two, and my usual optimism returns. Life has its peaks and valleys, and I seem to be cruising toward the place where you begin to go up again.
On a positive note, which I feel I should leave you with, the birds are singing, fluffy white clouds dot the sky, and the days are continuing to get longer and longer, which means the nights are shorter.