Young girl jumps to her death on a hot summer day in August.
Leaving her mom and three sisters’ in tears, Courtney Miller, 15, died from a tragic bungee-jumping accident. The cord was too long, and Miller snapped her neck after jumping off a two-story platform in Gatlinburg, TN.
That is what my obituary would have read if the experience had gone awry.
I was aware there was a chance I could get hurt or maybe even die; statistics said so. Screw statistics. I like to consider myself a risk-taker, someone who likes to live on the edge. You say, “Jump.” I say, “How high?”
This was one of those times. It was my mom’s birthday, and my three sisters and I decided to go bungee jumping. I was second. Daring to be different, I decided I wanted to jump backward.
Was I scared? Not at first. It did not even look that high, not from the ground at least. It was when I got to the top of the platform that everything changed. I looked down and noticed that the people on the streets looked like ants. I could feel my knees go weak and my heart begin to race.
I almost considered backing out, but then I heard my dad’s voice ringing in my ears saying, “Millers are tough,” an over-used quote of his when we show a sign of weakness and want to give up.
Stubborn that I am, I decided to go through with it. The instructor could smell my fear. He told me not to worry, that he knew what he was doing. He then measured my height and weight, which did not bother me since this was before puberty did its damage. After that, I was ready to get into the harness.
Considering it was the only thing keeping me from plunging into oblivion, the equipment seemed rather light and simple to me. Regardless, I had made up my mind, and I was going to follow through.
The instructor told me to go to the edge of the platform and turn around to face him. I did, and that is when the intensity began to pick up. He gripped onto my vest, with nothing to hold him steady, and told me to lean back. Instead of rethinking the insanity of the situation, I complied with his orders. Talk about trust issues.
With half of my feet dangling from the platform, I slowly leaned back. Unable to see anything below me, my eyes locked into the instructor
’s, pleading for him not to let me die.
“On the count of three I’m going to let go,” he said. “One. Two…”
And I was gone; falling into thin air with an elastic rope hooked to my waist. I could not tell you how fast I dropped. To me, it felt like an eternity. Once I reached the lowest point, I could feel the tug of the cord. It was taught, holding all of my weight, about to fling me upward if it did not break beforehand.
I closed my eyes tight as I was thrown back up into the air. In all actuality, that was the scariest part about it. It was then that I felt helpless, weightless, like a feather floating in thin air. My stomach turned the way it does when you are driving quickly over a hill. I felt like I was going to throw up. It was exhilarating.
Once the oscillation came to a halt, I was carefully lowered onto the mat. My blood was still rapidly pumping and I was trying to catch my breath. I walked away with a smile covering my face, happy I did not back down.
I am glad I went. In fact, I would do it again. Maybe next time instead of a platform, I will jump off a bridge. The point is, I took a risk, stepped out of my comfort zone and had an amazing experience that I will never forget.