Wedding Planner extraordinaire, Crystal was given only a few months to live. In the time she had left she lived life to the fullest and in the end that saved her life.
So, life was motoring along. Or so I thought. And then I received the worst news possible. My cancer had spread like butter on hot toast. I was given three to four months to live.
I pray that you NEVER get that prognosis.
My world crashed around me. I was full-on Titanic- mode, personified. I started the self-doubt and obsessive thinking all over again, “maybe those industry assholes I called ‘friends’ were right,” “maybe I should’ve given this up long ago,” “why am I still fighting to live?”
So, when your whole world crumbles around you, what do you do?
For me, I said “fuck it” and made a bucket list. Yep, like the dumbass movie of the same name. It was my list of “if you’re going to die anyway, might as well go out laughing.” So, I booked a flight to New Zealand because it is the adventure capital of the world. If you think I’m lying just Google “bungee jump,” “zorb,” or “canyon swing.” You get the (crazy) idea. Instead of going down fighting for my business this time, I was going down in a crazy insane fit of laughter having the best time I could possibly imagine. Business was on hold people. I had to live life. Or what was left of it, I thought.
So, I signed up for a crazy adventure tour across Kiwi Land (New Zealanders are known as Kiwis; I’m not sure why). I met up with an American soldier on leave, two hardy Brit boys, and our crazy local tour guide from Haka Tours and we were off.
We did it all. We bungee jumped, hiked, climbed, jumped, and threw ourselves at adventure with reckless abandon. The bigger the adrenaline rush the harder we went at it. I made friendships, suffered a couple of sulky “bad days,” but ultimately enjoyed what was supposed to be my last couple of months on Earth.
And then….I didn’t die. I laughed (a lot). But, I didn’t die.There was this crazy insane moment of clarity for me the day I decided (by “I” I mean my guide Sy and the group) it was time for me to skydive with Skydive Kaikoura. I imagined I would be an angel coming back to Earth instead of a human headed up to the divine. Crazy, right? Yep. I was scheduled to dive headfirst out of a plane in Kaikoura, New Zealand. This single experience was the catalyst for so much, and these precious people had no idea just how they had changed my life that day.
An odd Dutchman was strapped to my back during a very brief “course” on how to jump out of a plane. We were going, alone, to do this. My friends would be hiking and watching the sky to see me jump. It was a super small Cessna plane. Seated in the back, with my feet flat on the floor, my small five feet four inches frame touched the back of the plane. It was THAT tiny. In Kaikoura, you jump with a pack strapped to your back and front. Back is for the chute. Front is for the lifejacket, “just in case.” You’ve got mountains on one side, ocean on the other, and a landing strip right in the middle. Choices, my friends. Choices.
So, I’m in the Cessna headed up into the clouds and panicking my ass off. Mountains or ocean? Mountains or ocean? OMG It’s beautiful! Fuck my life, this is insane! My inner monologue sounded like a shrill teenage girl who spots the captain of the football team (aka her future husband) at a party—excited, terrified, and full of adrenaline all at the same time. My co-partner in all of this is the instructor strapped to my back, and he’s definitely got some quirky European humour to him. This man FARTS in this tiny Cessna while attached to me, so I cannot even run away, and then opens the door to air it out before pummeling us to what could very well be my death (much earlier, I hope, than scheduled). He does a few loops in the plane, like it’s a remote-controlled toy then straightens us out. I’m pretty sure my momma back in Canada heard me scream.
It was terrifying, exhilarating, and AWESOME. I cannot wait to do it again.
The trip (I mean fall) down was a whirlwind that only lasted a couple of minutes but felt like a lifetime. The clouds were in front of me then behind me. On top of me. In me. Below me. My face got pulled back into monster-melting style as I careened into the abyss and then it stopped suddenly. The shoot pulled as I was yanked by a voracious tug upwards into the air. Suddenly, I was floating instead of falling. I have never laughed so hard in my life. Ladies and gentlemen (if indeed boys are actually reading this), I became an angel for a brief moment in time and landed back on solid ground laughing and happy. I survived. I thrived. And, I was alive.
I knew this trip, that day in particular, did something special. I just didn’t realize what until I returned to Canada feeling worn-out but supremely crazy happy. Back in for a check up to see what we might be able to do to prolong my short life in any way shape or form. Only to find out, I was in remission. I went from feeling the doom of imminent death to feeling like anything was possible in a matter of a month. No chemo. No radiation. No clock. Just living large. It was, and remains, a mystery and a miracle to me.
Now, it wasn’t like cancer just stopped for me. That feeling of it being a death sentence on that particular day did, and that was all I needed. But let’s be real, I’ve since had countless follow-up appointments, nutritionists, surgeons, doctors, oncologists, and so on taking care of me but folks, this crazy lady is finally CANCER FREE. I thank New Zealand. For real. For getting me out of my head. Out of my mind. Focused on having fun. I turned the tides.
I believe it’s important for all of us to get out of our heads sometimes…maybe a little less than the Mad Hatter. It’s cathartic to see the world beyond your own self. I read stories all the time now about couples getting married (or calling it off) and sharing their wedding meals with the homeless or refugees. Yes! Wedding win! More importantly, MARRIAGE WIN!
I’m blessed to meet couples all the time who don’t want “the norm.” Couples who truly want to balk tradition and just have a blast with their family and friends. The operative word here is “FUN,” and I like to think I bring that to every wedding and event I design and create.
Crystal has written a book outlining her life and adventures as a wedding planner called Wedding Planner Problems. You can purchase it direct on weddingplannerproblems.com
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