A close friend with whom I went skydiving a lot back in the ’80s and ’90s died on Thursday of last week after a prolonged illness. I was saddened of his passing, but appreciated that he was finally relieved of his suffering.
His wife asked me to be a pall bearer, along with three of our skydiving companions. So yesterday, we suited up in our skydiving gear and I got out my parachute (which took me hours to open, clean, and repack correctly since I haven’t gone skydiving in about a year), and arrived at his funeral by air. Well, actually, we arrived via parachute! [Photo by the pilot using a cell-phone camera; I’m upper left]. We landed right on a ballfield next to the church where the funeral was held.
After landing, we quickly stashed our ‘chutes in a van and met the hearse at the church, and escorted our friend’s casket into the church for the service. This was the first time I have served as a pall bearer in skydiving gear and jump boots, but that’s how my friend knew me and my friends, and that’s how we wanted to appear — as he remembered us best.
One of my fellow skydiving companions gave a very fitting and mostly humorous eulogy, and closed with the words that my friend always said, “you can’t seem to get rid of the butterflies when you skydive, but you can teach them how to fly in formation!”
Rest in peace, my friend…
Life is short: show those you love, even in death, that you love them.