The Memorial

So normally I'd write all about how I had a great weekend going skydiving and visiting Niagara Falls but this weekend I got to participate in something a bit more unique.

Several years back, a young man suffered head trauma in a serious skateboarding accident. He ended up in a coma and died a couple days later. This past weekend happened to be the anniversary of that tragic event.

I never knew Bryce but it turns out he was an avid skydiver and photographer. Every weekend, he was rushing down to the dropzone to jump, dragging his trusty camera in the air with him. He loved his dropzone and everyone there loved him back. So, on the night of the anniversary of his passing, his family arrived unannounced at his favorite dropzone and I happened to be there.

When they arrived, everyone was spread out all over the campground worrying about dinner and such. Word quickly spread and soon everyone gathered together. At this point, at least to me, it was unclear what was going on other than that some rarely seen friends had made a surprise visit. Soon after, stories were shared. They told of the man who wouldn't even let sibling weddings stop him from going jumping (even if he did get delayed by the ceremony and festivities). Of the man who loved taking pictures, making records of all the fun people were having. Of the man who'd have unending fun hanging out with kids, showing them new things and seeing the light of joy in their eyes, not worrying about what he himself had originally wanted or planned to do. And of the man who was always ready to party, no matter how busy things got.

Eventually someone, likely realizing I had no context, took me aside and gave me the background you read at the beginning. At which point I realized something: Bryce had truly lived. Despite dying young, he had a huge impact on many people's lives. I had not thought that so many fond memories would have come from someone so young and was amazed when I heard the full story.

Bryce's family had brought up floating lanterns for a memorial. The idea was to write messages to Bryce on the outside and then release them into his favorite place--the sky. With messages written and lanterns released, the sky was filled with a glowing tribute to the man whose life was cut far too short.

Later that night, the sky cried for him as well. But, as Bryce would have had it, that didn't stop us from crowding together at the bonfire drinking to his memory.

Rest in peace, Bryce.

Packing chutes. RC jet fighter.
The plane.  IAD deployment incoming. Climbing out. Ready to jump. Jumping. Parachute deploying.
Parachute deployed. Flying down.
Flaring for the landing. And another one jumps.
A bit far out.
PFF formation. PFF chute deployment.
Packing the chute.
Spot the toad.
PFF exit. PFF deployment.
PFF instructors falling away.
Swooping down.
Swooping down.
A beautiful sunset. Floating lanterns.
Floating lanterns. Floating lanterns. Floating lanterns. Floating lanterns. Floating lanterns.
Floating lanterns. Floating lanterns. Lanterns floating into the sky. Floating lanterns. Floating lanterns.
Floating lanterns. Floating lanterns. Floating lanterns. Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls. The Maid of the Mists.
Niagara rainbow. Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls. Top of the falls.