1. Cremated remains of a skydiver
2. Heavy duty Ziploc bag
3. Glitter (optional)
4. Duct Tape
5. Cordura pouch with velcro
6. Functional aircraft
7. Parachute system
9. A willingness to let go
Remove the remains of your loved one (the one who couldn’t feel alive without jumping out of an airplane almost every weekend) from the container (urn, box, etc.) given to you by the undertaker. Transfer the powdery, chunky remains into the Ziploc bag. If you are working with the remains of the entire body, you will need the freezer size.
Caution: this can be messy, and you may end up inhaling some of the person you once snuggled up against in the early hours of the morning after making love.
Optional: add glitter to the mix of ash and bone chunks. Glitter will help spectators on the ground to see your loved one shimmering on their last jump if the light is angled favorably. Any color glitter will do. If there is little room in the freezer bag, combine bone chunks, ash, and glitter in a mixing bowl, and then transfer the combined mixture into the bag.
Seal the bag.
Vacuum the carpet.
Have a beer, or three. Laugh about something ridiculous.
Let the mixture marinate for 24-48 hours. Sober up. Cry uncontrollably. Pull it together. Drive to the dropzone.
Wrap duct tape around the bottom of the Ziploc in order to make handles, like those on a shopping or tote bag. Dropping the bag suddenly, rather than releasing the mixture slowly, would make your loved one into an ash bomb that might kill an innocent person on the ground, so handles are good.
Place the bag, with handles, into the Cordura pouch, and secure it around your waist, over your jumpsuit.
Put on your parachute harness and container system. If you are doing a tandem jump, don your harness and make sure your tandem instructor is ready to go. Review your exit procedures.
Go to your loved one’s family. Let his mother place her hands on the Cordura pouch, imagining that she is touching the cheek of the little boy fast asleep in his bed at home: that she is holding the new baby just home from the hospital, wriggling with new life, full of hope. Open your eyes. Accept that the little boy, the baby, the lover, the husband, is dead now, and you carry all that’s left in a synthetic bag.
Board the plane. Reach into the bag and secretly sprinkle some of your loved one inside the plane.
At a minimum of 10,000 feet above the ground, open the door and look outside at the sky. Take a moment in the door to feel his presence, to remember his arms around you. Tell him that this is his last jump. Tell him he’s dead, but he can land softly this time.
Exit the aircraft. Release some of the ashes in freefall. Open the parachute just above 5,000 feet.
With the wind in your face and the ground far below, reach for those duct tape handles and take the whole Ziploc bag out of the Cordura pouch. Unzip the top as you hang in the harness under your parachute. Hold the bag out to your side and see ash and bone in freefall, a jetstream of sadness and freedom and shimmering beauty. This is what’s left of the body you once held.
Wait until the bag is empty.