How Skydiving Changed My Life - Melissa Scott
On November 26, 2013, my life as I knew it changed in a matter of seconds. My husband committed suicide in front of me. At that moment, time froze. I was a widow at the age of 33. In an instant, I was left a single mommy of two little girls, one four months old and the other six years old. The next few months flew by in a blur.
I had always dreamed of skydiving, but when I became a mom I was told that it would be irresponsible. After the death, I had no one to tell me what to do. So on April 12, 2014, I drove two hours to Skydive DeLand in Florida to make a tandem jump. All my friends chickened out, but I went regardless.
As the instructor slid us to the edge of the door, I thought, “There is no turning back now.” Before I could take a breath, we were in freefall. Once again, time stood still. I had a sense of peace that came over my entire body like a white light. I didn’t hear the sound of the gunshot. I didn’t see that horrible movie of what I witnessed that constantly played in my head. My mind was blank. For the first time in months, I could actually close my eyes without breaking down. I knew right then that I wanted that feeling again.
A month later almost to the day, I made a second tandem. Little did I know that my tandem instructor, Trevor Cedar, would help change my life. The moment my feet hit the ground, I signed up to take the AFF course. When I made my first AFF jump, I was so worried about the landing that I screwed up the actual jump. Instead of the typical up-down-arch, I did up-down-come-out-of-the plane-spinning. I threw both instructors off me and went into pure-panic mode on my back. One of the instructors caught me, and I did what no one should ever do: I grabbed him with both arms and legs and went into full-blown lock-down mode. He fought me to let go. When he was finally able to get control and flip me over, my altitude was 5,500 feet. They obviously pulled my chute for me.
Under canopy I went into my holding area and prepared for landing. I landed like a boss! That was the part I was most scared about. I rode the truck back to the hangar. I seriously contemplated walking away from the drop zone and never returning. Later in the day, Trevor walked up to me and said, “You are human. Humans were not made to fly. We have to be taught to fly.” He explained that he would take me to the tunnel and teach me how. I had no idea what a difference it would make. I nailed the rest of my AFF jumps after that night of coaching. In July, my family came to watch my graduation jump, and like the boss that I am, I face planted on landing right in front of them. Epic! It was one of the happiest days of my life. I was a skydiver! I did what others told me I couldn’t do. I knew if I could conquer those fears, I could conquer any obstacle in my life.
I tried to get to the drop zone as much I could, but I am a forensic death investigator and a super busy mommy, so I didn’t get there as often as I would have liked. Still, I knew I loved Skydive DeLand, but didn’t know how much until later that year.
I wore my husband’s wedding ring on a chain around my neck for safekeeping. One day, I forgot to take it off, and I found it was still around my neck in the plane. I did my best to tuck it into my jumpsuit, but on my way home I realized that it was gone. I called a local friend and she drove to the drop zone and explained to everyone what had happened. The entire drop zone broke out flashlights and turned the place upside down. Although I never found the ring, I know that I couldn’t have lost it in a better place.
On November 26, 2015, I decided to spread my husband’s ashes at DeLand. I had planned to do the ash dive with a few friends, but the weather had other plans. There were thunderstorms the night before and my drive in was dark and gloomy. The rain finally stopped, and as I arrived at the drop zone a double rainbow greeted me. But the winds were still strong and I didn’t have the experience to jump in them. So I did the next best thing: a tandem with Trevor. He played such a huge role in my skydiving journey that it was only fitting.
Before the jump, my girls both wrote a special note to daddy that I placed inside the bag with his ashes. I tucked the ashes in my jumpsuit and boarded the plane. On the way to altitude, Trevor grabbed my shoulder and said, “This couldn’t be any more of a sign.” I looked out the window and a perfect rainbow encompassed the plane. That moment was pure perfection.
Trevor and I made the jump, and we spread my husband’s ashes in my happy place. I think my husband kept the winds strong because I would not have been emotionally able to make the jump by myself. All of the signs leading up to that point led me to believe that he was happy with my decision.
Skydiving brought me peace when nothing else could. It gave me a new outlook on life. I hope that through my journey, my girls will know that they can do whatever they put their minds to. And I am proud to call my fellow skydivers family.
Melissa Scott | A-73255 | Keystone Heights, Florida