There are these narrow points in any long journey where it takes courage to push through and keep going, but the view from the other side is breathtaking and life unfolds in completely new ways that are unexpected, bold and sweet.
I've been passing through one of those since October of 2009 when I was told I had melanoma, Stage II, Clark Level IV. This past Saturday was the postscript with an enormous celebration, thanks to PROSkydiving -- www.PROSkydiving.com -- at Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Rochelle, lll., and Mo Wills, at Infinity Multisport -- www.InfinityEffect.com.
That's just the start.
First of all, the great doctors at Northwestern saved my life, despite even the early diagnosis that there was only a year left on this life. Then, came the struggle, or at times, battle to walk again normally. After the initial surgery that removed part of the left side of my left leg, I had to learn to stride again with a normal gait.
Frankly, standing in one spot for long periods of time, or walking great distances, became a great, and often painful, challenge.
I was determined to push through, though, as far as I could, but at the same time, I was looking for grace to accept what might turn out to be my new limits.
Thank goodness for Sydney Owen of PROSkydiving, and for Twitter. During my very first hour of figuring out how to tweet, I said something about wanting to try a 5k to show my son that I'm OK now.
I was still not really sure if I meant it, and at the same time, I commented on someone else's tweet about skydiving. I said that I had done it once, and after I landed, I got up and wondered why I was doing anything that no longer served me.
My entire life changed after that first jump in the spring of 2009, including finding out I had cancer five months later when a small mole was biopsied from beside my knee.
Sydney offered to have PROskydiving sponsor me in that 5K, and then to come out and jump at Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Rochelle, Ill., that same day.
Mo Wills showed me the art of chi walking and the race was on to the celebration this past Saturday.
Despite how many times I gave Mo Wills the fish eye when we trained, I was walking better within the first hour, and after about a month, slowly running. So far, I've gone from an 18-minute mile to a 14-minute mile, and I finished the 5K in 49 minutes. Better than I expected and a great place to keep going till the next 5K in October.
Soon, Kigo Footwear got on board with thin-soled running shoes to go with the chi style of running. There was an amazing daisy chain of events that unfolded so easily without my even asking for a thing.
The Champions 5K race in Montrose Harbor was run next to my buddy, Cindy Biggs, with several of my friends coming down to cheer me on as I crossed the finish line. All I can remember at that moment is asking Cindy over and over again, if we were really finished, and her enormous grin as she kept repeating, "Yep, you did it!"
Some part of me that was still wondering if I was really OK, got an answer, but not the one I expected. To my surprise, I found out that if I break something down into pieces, ask for help, and then take the advice, then anything is possible.
Later that afternoon, I was strapped to Rudy, the tandem instructor, while another friend, Kyle Brumfield was on her first jump strapped to Jacko, and off we went into the sky.
The view of the sun and the clouds was so dazzling that, at first, I didn't realize Rudy was tapping my shoulder to get me to spread out my arms. It was so much fun up in the clouds that I was hamming it up for the camera, flapping my arms and giving the thumbs up, but mostly I was staring at that view.
I was actually a little disappointed when the canopy opened and we began to float back toward earth. This time, what I'm taking away is a constant feeling of optimism about what's coming next and another incredible view.
Tweet me @martharandolph and tell me how your weekend was. www.MarthaCarr.com.
Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at Martha@caglecartoons.com.