Love is a funny thing. It makes people laugh, cry, happy, hurt. When two people share and love each other, they hope to die loving. In that, love can be dangerous.
My maternal grandfather passed away when I was preparing for my North Pole expedition back in 1998. My grandmother was totally devastated. Imagine spending the last three decades alone together, with the kids all away, building their own families. She was healthy. Then three months after the former’s passing, my grandmother fell ill and was diagnosed with colon cancer. I saw her…wasting away. The night before she passed, I held her hand. She smiled and told me that she could see my grandfather standing in front of her, smiling at her.
How she must have pined for him.
Then five years ago, my late friend, Siva, and I were with a recently-qualified freefall student, in a Cessna 172K, 8,000 feet above sea level at Mersing. Earlier that day, this former student from Australia had done something weird..out of the normal, like asking the drop zone manager to keep his belongings under lock etc., etc. So above the drop zone, he jumped, followed by late Siva, then I. This former student was supposed to deploy his main chute at 4,000 feet. He did not. Siva and I continued to watch him as we had 20 seconds before impacting the ground if we did not open our chutes. At 3,000 feet (15 seconds to impact), Siva hurriedly deployed his chute. This former student and I were still freefalling. I signaled for him to open his chute. He nodded but remained still. At 1,500 feet (7 seconds to impact), I opened my chute, and saw this former student zoom past me. To my relief, the CYPRESS automatic opening device activated and deployed his reseve chute at 700 feet (3 seconds from impact) above sea level. He landed safely at sea.
I learnt later that his wife was terminally ill with cancer in Australia, and he did not wish to live longer than necessary.
Love is beautiful….and dangerous.