Adventures, Dad

The Big Day I’ve Been Trying Not To Think About

Well. Today is the day. Sometime between 5-5:30pm this evening I’ll be rappelling down the old Huntsville Times building in the name of Rocket City Mom and our local YMCA.

Y’all? I’m terrified.

I know a lot of people are afraid of heights. So…to you guys…you know that feeling you get when you look down from something tall? That feeling like you’re going to hurl and cry and you can’t back away from the window/ledge fast enough? That’s what I get every time I close my eyes. I keep thinking about the time when Wes was a baby and we were in Knoxville. We went to the Sunspere and we were walking around the observatory where you can see down through the arched glass. I was freaked out because my Dad was holding Wes and standing TOO CLOSE TO THE GLASS. I was backed up against the inner wall and that was enough and I could not get down from that thing fast enough.

Now, I’m okay looking out from something tall. But when I first get harnessed up and go off the edge of the building, there’s bound to be some looking down. And while most of rappelling is looking up as you go down backwards, you still have to look down to know where you’re placing your feet and whatnot.

In other words? I might have a meltdown.

They have decided to give me the official camera for the event. When means I need to refrain from cursing AND sobbing. I’m actually glad of this because I do want to try to enjoy the moment and the experience. Preserving my reaction for posterity will help me focus on NOT humiliating myself. I don’t think I’ll go so far as to enjoy the terror, but I hope to at least savor it as one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I know tons of people would love to have.

But of course…I’ll mostly think of my Dad. He was not scared of heights, obviously. And he loved the opportunity for a unique adventure. He would have probably tried to join me, I know he definitely would have come into town to see me do it. He had rappelling gear and let me rappel once down an embankment on the road next to our house. It was about 8 feet. IT WAS TERRIFYING.

It comes back to him so often in my life. More often than I admit. I think a lot of my running adventures are led by a desire to do the things Dad would have wanted me to do. The things he would have loved to hear about. The things he would have loved to do. He was always in great shape and should have lived a long and adventure-filled life. He wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. He had books and gear ready so he could just do it. It was the silver lining he was holding on to during times when he feared the company he worked for would do downsizing. I’ll go hike the AT if I get laid off. He never did it. He died too young for someone so fit.

So, I say, “Yes!” to things that I might have reservations about. I do things he should have gotten the chance to do. I sign up for marathons that span 7 bridges because he would have loved to have cheered me on for that one. (He wouldn’t have run it, he thought running more than a 5K was insane.) I run on the trails because I think he would have liked trail running. I go to night classes at observatories. And today I’ll rappel off an old building that I have a sentimental attachment to. He would have even understood that part, loving a structure. I’ll do these things that he never got a chance to do and I’ll think of him and hope that the thought of him gives me some strength.

Because – there’s another thing about him – I think he would have been MORTIFIED if I started crying during this rappel. And I don’t mind embarrassing my kids or my husband, but I would have been devastated to embarrass my Dad. So, I’ll do it without crying! Hopefully. But if I do cry, I’ll at least pretend it’s because I’m having SUCH AN AMAZING TIME! and not because I’m so terrified I just peed in my pants.

10 thoughts on “The Big Day I’ve Been Trying Not To Think About”

  1. Good luck! I would have to have someone push me off, but I’m sure you’ll be fine! Can’t wait to see your pictures.

  2. You can do this. The fear will be temporary, and just take the first step/hop/whatever is it. By this evening, it will be nothing more than a (hopefully not-to-traumatic) memory. For what it’s worth, my hands are sweating as I type this.

  3. More than anything else, this might be the thing I am most in awe of you for. I am TERRIFIED of heights; the full on paralysis kind of terrified. I am SO proud of you. I am determined to figure out how to beat my fear of heights.

  4. You can DO IT, lady! You have done so many things already that you never thought you could. You will do it, and you will be awesome. And you can have a beer or seven after you’re done!

  5. Your dad would be proud. He is proud! I think he will be there with you in spirit, just like he is every time you say yes to things that he would have loved to have gotten the chance to do.

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