High Dive

Way back in 1963, I can remember warm July summer afternoons like today. My family would take me along when going to a local swimming pool at an amusement park. I had been swimming for years having had YMCA lessons and growing up a block from a river. But there was a very strong attraction to the diving boards at big swimming pools. It hadn’t been until this day that I finally made the choice to try to jump off. I practiced on the low board for a while. It was a perfect day for this because there were not that many people in the pool yet. My earlier experience at another pool closer to my home had not gone so well.  Climbing the ladder took a few attempts before I made it to the top. Mostly the people in line behind me were girls and when I froze at the top it was far worse fear for me at the moment going forward across the board and jumping than admitting I “chickened out”. Climbing back down after making the others climb down behind me was not an option this time. Walking across that diving board was scary and I couldn’t help thinking I was about to walk-the-plank. I jumped.

And each time after was less frightening and scary. I knew the water wouldn’t do more than sting a little if you jumped in right. And eventually I was diving, doing flips and gainers just to feel that few seconds’ thrill of going into the water at that speed. Eventually I was able to convince others to take the “leap” themselves when I worked at one of those earlier pools as a Life Guard. Now it was easy for me to encourage people into taking that step past their fear to have a summer fun experience. And I did, whenever I would see those who had the same hesitation on going off the high dive I would escort them up and walk them through it. And if they still wanted to stop once on the top I would escort them back down. And more often than not they would return in a short time and want to try again. And I was never really that good of a diver. I just loved the water. And I loved jumping off the diving boards.

Today I find myself once more in the Life Guard role. There is no high dive now, no water, umbrellas or concession stand. It is just life, and the reality of time. But just like the story above, I had to face the frightening leap into another kind of pool. This pool was my friends, family and everyone around me who live their lives and dream the hope of good health, kindness and love. And as time goes by I have gained another confidence from climbing to the heights of emotion and helping Hospice patients and their families to share strength and  compassion to help them deal with the discussions and decisions at hand.

Caring Choices has taken the leap.  We are aware of how scary and frightening it can be to face the unknown. We are ready to offer the possibility for enriched dialog among people who care about and care for each other. Share your fears and concerns and often there is strength in knowing others have jumped before you and can understand.

© 2014 Caring Choices