This is a memoir piece written for The Red Dress Club.
The prompt: imagine that you have died and your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see? Tell us about them in the finest detail.
The prompt comes with a 700 word limit. This post squeaks in at 699.
They say you find God in unlikely places. In a stable, not a cathedral. I remind myself of this as we stand trussed up on the tarmac, having indemnified the world against our own recklessness.
“Y’all call it a plane, I call it an antique,” I mutter under my breath. No one can hear me over the noise of the propellers. Propellers! How…quaint.
We have to climb an actual ladder to get in the thing, right past the cartoon Betty Boop painted on the fuselage. There are no seat backs or tray tables. Hell, there aren’t even any seats, just metal benches lining both sides of the plane. Mark’s on the other side, and far enough back that I can hardly see him.
They don’t close the door, not while we load, not while we rattle down the runway, and not even in the air. I suppose I should be scared, but the hair whipping around my neck tastes like freedom, like my high school convertible hugging curves on back roads as the wind tears “Closer to Fine” from the speakers.
The landscape dissolves into a chess board and I wonder if this is how it looks to God in his heaven. I think of all the problems I’d like to have left on the ground and my head aches. They are too heavy to carry.
“Give it to God,” ministers say. But they don’t tell you how. I tried once; I wrote my problems on a scrap of paper torn from a church bulletin and tossed it into the silver collection plate as it passed.
Sermons talk about “heavy hearts,” and I never understood the concept until now, now that I have one thudding away in my own chest, and it tells me with every beat that I was stupid and proud to think that I could make my own plan and have it be good, that I am muddling through this life like a blind woman, that things feel too bad to be right.
I am tethered to a blonde girl in her early twenties, and she cinches us tighter as the world grows smaller. Her chatter is static. I am mesmerized by that open door. All we have to do is go through it. They told us some people fight it, hold on to the door so tightly they break their arms. Better to cross them over your chest, they said.
Then it’s time, and over the roaring of the plane, the gaping door, the excited chatter, my mind goes silent, and for the first time in my life I feel like a yogi. This decision is made. I guess I could back out but then I’d have to land in this rustbucket, and honestly, the door looks like the safer bet.
Besides, I need a grander gesture. Offering plates are for smaller problems. I don’t think I could fit myself into one, even at the Vatican. And my whole body is what I need to give.
I give it up, I think. All of it, all of me. I trust in you.
Blondie and I scoot our conjoined butts to the front of the bench, watching as pair after pair of our fellow passengers disappears, sucked right out of the door.
To you, Lord, I think, as we approach the door. I give myself over to you. At Blondie’s signal I cross my arms over my chest. So this is what it’s like to give up control.
Give it to God. Is this “it”?
Before I can do more than smile, Blondie propels us forwards.
After it’s over, everyone asks, “Wasn’t that the best rush ever?”
No rush at all. Only peace.
There’s a video of it, and it shows a girl that looks like me. She’s smiling, even gives a thumbs up to the camera.
But what I feel as we fall … it’s not on the video. I am cradled. We step out of the plane into the warm palm of God, as tangible as anything I’ve ever felt. Our arms and legs curve in the concave position of freefall, molded to the shape of his strong, invisible hand.