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Story of the Month

A Dairy-Allergic Child Learns to Fly Solo

Arielle’s transition to college went smoothly, too. She found plenty of safe foods in the dining hall and learned to cook when she moved off campus in her sophomore year.

When she pleaded with us to study business in Australia, it was hard to say no.

***

Arielle texted us when she arrived in New Zealand and then five days later. “Just went skydiving from 15,000 feet! It was amazing!”

My heart raced. I texted back: “OMG! U really did it!” Our exchange was brief, since she was on the road.

She said she’d fill us in on the jump when she returned to Brisbane. Knowing she was now safe on the ground, I felt calmer.

In the days that followed, I pictured my daughter falling through the sky in tandem with an instructor. I thought about her fearlessness. I considered that perhaps when you’ve experienced real fear – an itchy tongue that in seconds becomes something worse, like the tightening of your throat – you have fewer imagined fears.

Or maybe you become determined to live life to the fullest, traveling halfway around the world, surfing, glacier hiking, bungee jumping and skydiving.

Back in Brisbane, Arielle called us through Skype to video chat. After sharing the highlights from her trip, she asked, “Want to see the skydiving video?”

We watched her take off on a twin-engine plane with a few of her travel companions. Then came the jump.

Geared up in a silver jumpsuit, helmet and goggles, she went free-falling through clouds. In a close-up, she was smiling, exhilarated.

Suddenly, I was overcome with awe as well as joy for her. I wondered if she could see me tearing up through the pixilation of long-distance video.

Then I noticed Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” playing with the footage. I listened to the words:

My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, “I did it my way”
I just want to live while I’m alive
’Cause it’s my life.

It was the perfect anthem for Arielle.

Melissa Sodowick is a freelance writer who lives in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. Originally published in Allergic Living magazine.

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