What If The Parachute Doesn’t Open?

The anesthesiologist handed the nurse an oxygen mask and the two of them told me to breathe deeply.

Just two hours prior to my being on the table a hospital representative had asked me if I had an advanced directive.

“Don’t kill me.”

I said it with a smile on my face and watched to see if she caught the sparkle in my eyes.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I heard a voice from my past.

“I can take better care of you than anyone else can. If you ever pull your head out of your ass you’ll know that is true.”

Back on the table I stared at the ceiling and wondered how long it would take for me to go under.

In my time I had drunk more than a few people under the table and done more to prove I could endure and outlast people.

Fortunately I didn’t outlast the drugs and sleep came so quickly I have no recollection of anything beyond the nurse telling me to breathe deeply.


The phone buzzes, I stop what I am doing and see a text flashing at me.

“When are you moving to Texas and when do you move out of your current place?”

I write back that the move to Texas won’t be until the end of the month and mention my surgery.

They ask me if I am kidding and then yell at me for not letting them know I was going under the knife.

“It wasn’t planned. Everything is fine, it just happened quickly.”

We go back and forth for a few minutes and try to figure out if there is going to be time to get together before the big move.

“Mr. I can do it all and won’t ask for help, don’t do anything stupid. Take it easy and let your body heal.”

I promise to do my best and then ask how I am supposed to dig up the buried treasure if I can’t do anything.

“Ask for help.”

Ask For Help

Those three words echo inside my head and I realize more than a couple of people have shared them with me.

I have been running this race for so long now I realize I haven’t been very good about taking their advice.

Some of it can be blamed upon my own impatience and desire to make things happen on my schedule and some is tied into a lack of faith in others.

Have I always been this way or have the experiences of the last ten years had more of an impact upon me than I realize.

I am not really sure and I don’t know if I should care or not.

Something about the moment makes me want to reach out and ask Neruda what he thinks but Pablo is long since dead and has no idea who I am.


Still I want to hand Neruda a drink and tell him it is time to talk about life, love, living and women.

“Tell me about who you loved and who didn’t love you back.

Share your tips for writing and tell me how you could bare your soul without concern and I’ll share my own tale or two.”

I tilt my head and listen, turn my face skyward during the day and during the night but Neruda never says a word or if he does I don’t recognize it as being his.

What If The Parachute Doesn’t Open?

The anesthesiologist asks me if I am nervous and I tell her I am the guy who can jump out of airplanes or cliffs but only if I don’t take time to think about it.

She asks if that means I won’t do it or if I am just slower to jump and I say both.

Jimi Hendrix is singing May This Be Love and I am looking back in time.

It is 1980 something and I am in college.

A bunch of us are standing on the roof of an apartment building drinking beer and talking about life.

Time passes and people pair up and wander off to spend time together but I stand by myself. All these years later I can’t tell you if it was by choice or coincidence, could be either.

Wouldn’t be the first or last time I stood on the outside looking in and since I don’t see it as always being a bad thing it doesn’t bother me.

The past flows into the present and I realize memory has been interrupted by the aching in my belly.

The surgeon says within a few days or so I should feel like myself…provided I don’t lift anything heavy.

I eye the time and figure if I pop a pill now I’ll be good until morning.

In between swigs of water and a deep swallow I think about the coming days and what remains to be done.

The adventure I promised my children has begun and I am doing my best to show them the benefits that come with living life fully alert and awake.

I thought long and hard before I jumped out of the plane this time but it didn’t prevent me from asking what happens if the parachute doesn’t open.

The answer is the same now as it has always been. I’ll do my best to learn how to fly and if I don’t, well I may bruise but I don’t break so I’ll just pick myself up and start walking again.

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1 Comment

  1. Larry August 14, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    If the parachute doesn’t open, ask for help. In fact, ask before that.

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