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ltdiver

In Memory of Josh Whipple

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Thanks for your kind words. My sympathies go out to you and everyone who has lost someone close, finding way to endure such grief are difficult at best and impoosible at worst. Hopefully time to will provide the perspective to cherish the memories and dull the pain of the thorn of loss.

I just got back from a road trip in Arizona, and took some of Josh's ashes off a small cliff overlooking a beautiful desert city. It was a true pleasure to have the opportunity to go on the road trip Josh had been talking about. He's right, the desert is a beautiful place, with plenty of opportunity to let the musty parts of the mind dry out and emerge clean.

It's excellent to talk to others, thank you all again for your kind words.

Be as well as you can,

-=Raistlin
find / -name jumpers -print; cat jumpers $USER > manifest; cd /dev/airplane; more altitude; make jump; cd /pub; more beer;



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I've got nothing worthwhile to offer. I wish I had. I think the only things I can look back on are these writings I have in my PDA from a year ago. I read through them and I can scarcely recognize my own writing style. It's nonsense mostly; just frustrated scrawlings...but there's something kind of hollow and lost about them, too. All I have is this closing pin, these writings, and a piece of understanding Josh wouldn't have wanted me to have.

-I guess that's not entirely true, though. I have friendships I never would have had if not for tragedy. I was able to meet and talk to some people it would have taken many years to connect with, if ever. I guess 'All I have' isn't really what I should have said...more like 'All I don't have', and that's Josh himself...at times, it seems to me that he was the font from which all of this happiness and all of this pain that everyone feels flowed from. It's not polite to start a party and then leave, sir. [:/]

My reaction was more surprising to me than Karen's I think -I didn't expect to even remember that 'day'. I don't intentionally celebrate or mourn anyone's day of death; it's just something I never do. But when it came, I couldn't understand how I was having an issue with it. Even after I had safely put to bed the memory of how and when (I thought)...certain issues had been raising the reality of it all back to me these past few weeks, though I really did have every intention of never thinking about 'that day' again. I still can't justify that pain in my heart. If you asked him he wouldn't have considered me a close friend. Just someone to debate with a share some Jell-o. I was so excited that I found someone to talk to. He had such great conversation skills, and such a quick wit too. I felt cheated that morning of February 10th. Alone in my home office getting my last bit of internet surfing done before leaving for school...I froze for a few minutes. It was a selfish pain. That was supposed to be my talking buddy. I just felt cheated, then the pain of 'Oh my God what will _____ do?' Then I felt mad for all the _____'s. The ______'s out there will be just devastated. I'll see what I can do for them, but I'm still pissed.

I hope his spirit lives on somewhere out there. I hope he can BASE off of whatever the freak he chooses and doesn't ever have to worry about landing on my trampoline in the back yard and the poor taxpayers paying for his broken leg. As for me, I'm still :
Quote

eat cheeseburgers, smoke, or sit on their ass all day,

-all that, and drinking tons of coffee, m*ther f*cker. I guess we're even. Take care buddy.
~Jaye
Do not believe that possibly you can escape the reward of your action.

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It's been two years since we lost our dearly beloved friend, and while I still think of Josh daily, today holds special significance for me, as the circle of his life was completed today, 2 years ago. I know many others will be doing the spending today thinking about what happened 2 years ago. So I wanted to take this moment to write down some thoughts, and to enjoy a shot of Talisker, candle, and memories.

Our lives continue to change with time and we change with them. The person we are today is different than the person we were two years ago. Our likes, dislikes, attitudes, careers, routines, social circles, goals, and a myriad of other aspects of us change with time, and as a result our identities change. As our identities change our relationships change, we adapt ourselves to our environments, change the way we do things, and in theory, as we grow older, we get better at getting what we want. We become more effective at achieving our goals, we become more clear about what those goals are, and we have more skills and a larger pool of resources available to accomplish them. Those who are our friends, the extensions of ourselves that make us complete, those who know us, faults and all, and love, understand, and accept us anyways, join us through our amorphous journey through life. From a less self-centric point of view, we know those around us are also changing. Their identities are changing as a function of time, just as ours are, and we come to, not only know, but become a part of the new developments in their life. In many cases we are influences, participants, and sometimes even driving forces in the changes in our friends' lives. So what holds friends together during the time they're both changing? Why don't they simply split apart and go in the random different directions their lives take them? In some cases they do. Friends in college may be inseparable, but may or may not ever see each other after graduation (or dropping out...), people who served together in the armed forces may have put their lives in each others hands, risked everything for one another, and rotated back stateside and lost track of each other, some may have been close while they were both working towards the same goal or shared common interests and gone their separate ways when the goals or interests were no longer the same. While one might be tempted to make strong judgments about the quality and strength of the friendship, I'm willing to withhold said judgment and simply conclude that the intensity faded and the active nature of the friendship subsided.

So what does it mean to have a friend? What does it mean to be a friend? Friendship is such an interesting concept with a wide scope and space. There's room for all kinds of friendships in our lives and we have all manner of them. There's the people we like to skydive with, the people we like working with, the people we like to sleep with, the people we trust our lives with, and then there's that rare group that we trust ourselves with. When we meet those people and we form that bond of friendship both of us are far more than the sum of the parts. We create something greater than ourselves and something so strong and powerful it enables us to do things we never could before. That team is sacred and is something to protect, because it brings so much to both our lives in a the most beautiful symbiotic manner. We can be vulnerable and let them close enough to help us, as they let us close enough to them to help them. We're doctors for each other, we're the ones to laugh with, cry with, build with, overcome challenges with, and to celebrate who we are with. We can simply stand tall stripped of all our walls, masks, and pretenses and know that we are loved, understood, and accepted for who we are... who we really are.

When someone offers to be a part of your life, or offers you the opportunity to be a part of their's, it's a generous offer, but unless it's symmetric it's not friendship. Friendship requires commitment from both people and the commitment to value the team as a priority higher than some others in their lives. The level of commitment and priority to friendship can be illustrated through the following two questions:

"What kind of friend would have to be in what kind of trouble for you to change your life?"

coupled with:

"What kind of friend would have to be in what kind of trouble for you to change your plans for the day?"

The answers mostly lead to more questions about the nature of commitment to those we care about, and what it means to be a part of someone's life and to have them as a part of ours. The first question asks where the outer limits of your commitment to friendship are. While the second question asks where the inner limits of commitment to friendship are. How many people would save a friend from drowning, but wouldn't help the move to a new house? It's mostly an interstng exercise in better understanding who one is as a person, and as a friend.

The crux of this seemingly random path of thought is to say that Josh and I have had an interesting past year together. My friendship with him continues to change (as it had to, given that he's not available for meetings anymore.) and this past year was no exception. I can imagine other people have also undergone changes in their relationship with Josh this past year, perhaps they noticed his conscipious absence and wondered what he would have said or thought had been present. Or perhaps they raised a glass to him on his birthday and thought about him lying in his chair sipping Highland Park. Or perhaps they sometimes wonder WWJD (What Would Josh Do) in this particular situation. He continues to be present and play a role in our lives, and it's beautiful to think of his smile, wry comment, and wonderful ability to remind us about the good in ourselves.

The friendship we shared with Josh while he was alive changed us while he was alive, and those changes open our eyes to new ideas, thoughts, concepts, and ways of living. The seeds he planted in us have grown and we've become new people and he continues to be a part us. I think about how much I'd really love to meet him for a beer and game of darts (even though I'd lose (see previous posts;-)) and tell him about the interesting developments in my life, and to hear about the one's in his. He'd likely have gotten that master's degree he was after by now, maybe would have gone to balloon festival he meant to go to. Might still be in Seattle or maybe would have moved to a sunnier place, who knows?

I think that's what makes me sad right now. He never got to see what was coming next. He missed out on all the opportunities and adventures that happened after he died. We can still include him in our lives as his spirit lives in us, and the goodness that he brought to the world lives after him. But, I still get sad when I think of all the good times we didn't get have, all the things we didn't get to do, and all the opportunities that got lost.

I miss talking to him. I still laugh at some of his wry comments, jokes, and dry sense of humor. He still brings a smile to my face when I think of some of the silly situations we got into and the lessons we learned from doing it. He's one of the gems that fell into my life and continues to shine brightly... he still makes me smile, think, consider new ideas and alternative, and still inspires me to be like him. I wish I had his calming presence, his scholarly and thoughtful nature, and his ability to relate to people. I'm still inspired by his strengths and want to work towards developing them in myself. Again, he continues to be an influence in life, and a source of change...

This past year was generally easier for me than the previous. Perhaps time to does heal. Josh is lost from us, but not forgotten. Today is going to be an interesting day, perhaps a very hard day, a sorrowful one, or perhaps one where people can sit back and tell fun stories about Josh and just talk about how much they miss him, and what a great guy he was. If anyone wants to talk, send me a PM, and we can talk on the phone.

Be well.

-=Raistlin
find / -name jumpers -print; cat jumpers $USER > manifest; cd /dev/airplane; more altitude; make jump; cd /pub; more beer;



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Raistlin, that was a very warm and thoughtful post. One aspect did seem to be missing though...in addition to how lucky you've been to count Josh among your friends, he was similarly fortunate to count you among his. ;)

Blues,
Dave
"I AM A PROFESSIONAL EXTREME ATHLETE!"
(drink Mountain Dew)

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Time is an interesting medicine. A common saying is that "time heals all wounds" implying that the magical medicinal powers of time is a panacea for any and all ailments. Medicines are tools which allow the injured an opportunity to rebuild what was lost and to regain their vitality, strength, and courage even after substantial damage. Some damages are purely physical, some are mental, some are emotional and yet others are moral and the prescriptions for each type can vary radically. Time can be a powerful healing force for some types of injuries but sometimes it can exacerbate the damage in other situations. On this three year anniversary of the world's loss of Josh, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the nature of time and it's relationship to healing.

Three years ago the world became markedly poorer when Josh left it. Those of us who are left behind mourn the loss of our friend, companion, brother, son, family member, lover, and fellow human being. The ceremonies, funerals, and fellowship aided the grieving process in terms of grappling with the shock of such loss, but even a year afterwards I still found myself blinking and occasionally having to remember Josh is gone. To some extent the shock, the pain, the ongoing confusion seemed, in a small way, like loyalty to a departed friend. It was the mental 'Lest we forget' flag that would strike emotional chords of loss, sadness, and desires to cope with what had happened.

Some might argue maintaining that sense of loss is akin to keeping a candle lit for one's friend. The ever present candleflame in the dark, lighting the memories of good times shared with overtones with this present sadness. The romantic ideal of keeping a mental and emotional state of mourning is simultaneously a testament to the importance of the friendship and by proportionality the significance of the loss as well as the desire to come to terms with the loss, cope with it, and move forward in life in one's own way. But what does this have to do with the effect of time?

Time passes and we grow. We have new experiences, we fill our lives with beauty, with friends, with art, with life, with fun, with sadness, with risk and reward. We endure through the hard times and we celebrate the good times. As we continue to fill our lives with new things, the pains of the past can become duller. Perhaps this is how time heals all wounds... it doesn't actually heal them, it simply makes the pains so dull they are unnoticeable. But how? Is it by accumulating more and more good memories, good times, personal gains and achievements, new senses of balance in life that buries the original sense of loss? Is it by gaining new perspective through experience on how to view the loss of the past? Is it by distraction and having advanced to new stages of life that allow short and long term memories to fade and thus the loss to lose significance? Ahhh, if that's the case doesn't it seem as though time is our enemy? As though it slowly eats away at our ability to remember and understand the formative and important people in our lives? To lose the details of what happened, when, and where, and how, only to have the bright distinct lines of a person's influence on our lives to become blurred and muddied in the rains of time, until only a semi-gray color emerges from the once beautifully decorated canvass leaving us with only an 'impression' versus specific details and meaning? Or perhaps that's exaggerating the situation...

After three years, I still have Josh's closing pin around my neck (thanks), and continue to think about him. Certain triggers remind me of good times we shared more than others, certain BASE objects, Highland Park scotch, wind conditions at a cliff, among other things, and I'm coming to feel much less pain regarding his loss. I'm coming to enjoy the good times we had, but sometimes I really wish he was here. I'd love him to be a part of what's going on in my life right now, and I can only hypothesize where his life might have gone. The future that could have been can be a gorgeous fantasy picture to paint, and it can also be a haunting vision.

Despite the general tone of the above, I'm doing relatively well with regards to this loss. I can't say I'll forget today, or what happened. I think Feb 10th will always hold a sad place in my life. But, now more than before it's a sadness that doesn't lead down a chasm of long term sadness and frustration. It's less substantial and more sane in terms of its overall effects on my mood and life.

It's a strange day and definitely a hard one for many of us. If anyone out there feels they are the only ones noticing today, rest assured you aren't. Many of us are reflecting and thinking about this day, what it means and how it changed our lives, three years ago.

I hope that time is your ally and is providing perspective, new insights and encouragement as to all the wonder and beauty Josh provided the lives of those around him. I hope that those insights, new perspectives, and discoveries improve over time, and that the hurt and sense of loss dissipate.

But... I can still see his face, still see his smile, remember his voice, and the good times we had.

I still miss him,

-=Raistlin
find / -name jumpers -print; cat jumpers $USER > manifest; cd /dev/airplane; more altitude; make jump; cd /pub; more beer;



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We've got a picture of Josh right next to our front door that I see every morning as I head out. We've even got a skydiver blonde sitting there toasting him.

It's hard to believe that it's been 3 years since we've seen him.

"Life is a temporary victory over the causes which induce death." - Sylvester Graham

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Beautifully written as usual.

I don't ever try to remember this date. Seems that I always do, though...

I still have his pictures here on my computer upstairs -my network link is down or I'd post my favorite pic. It's the one that looks like he's looking back... [:/]

~Jaye
Do not believe that possibly you can escape the reward of your action.

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We've got a picture of Josh right next to our front door that I see every morning as I head out. We've even got a skydiver blonde sitting there toasting him.

It's hard to believe that it's been 3 years since we've seen him.



Amen to that..... so many in such a short time.. its all like a blur[:/]

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Thanks for the kind words, all. I really appreciate them.

It does seem like just yesterday doesn't it? And yet sometimes it seems like I have to call Josh and do a night of drinking because so much has happened that he doesn't even know about.... It's a strange dichotomy... on the one hand I'm coming to terms with the fact that he's gone and on the other hand I'm having a hard time remember that he's not just on a long trip or busy skydiving or working or something... I wonder if that ever gets easier. Given current trends I expect that more peace and serenity are to come... although that doesn't necessarily answer the question.

If anyone wants to talk, PM me, we can talk on the phone or online, your choice.

-=Raistlin
find / -name jumpers -print; cat jumpers $USER > manifest; cd /dev/airplane; more altitude; make jump; cd /pub; more beer;



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Mikey and I had dinner the other night at the Space Needle for our 3 year wedding anniversary... As we turned and looked over the city, I have to admit, I thought of Josh...

...and so many others...
Once you visit Skydive Lost Prairie
Your heart will never leave.

Boogie with us... www.skydivelostprairie.com

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It's been almost four years now.

I remember looking out my office window in Seattle, the day I heard the awful news.

From there I could see the bridge he jumped off of.

Even before his death, I thought of a song that reminded me of Josh. Little did I know how much like him it actually was --

Not Even Stevie Nicks, by Calexico:

"With a head like a vulture
and heart full of hornets
he drives off the cliff
into the blue
not even the priestess
with her wrenches and
secret powers
could save him from danger
for a little while
not even she could save him
They found him inside the motor."

Blue Skies, my dear friend.

mh
.
"The mouse does not know life until it is in the mouth of the cat."

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Yesterday was 6 years since we lost Josh. Your picture is hanging in our house and I'm still jumping your rig (which remains your rig, not my rig). Just last week, I shared the story of the giant pumpkin you bought that ended up rotting in my house while we tried to figure out what to do with it! We still miss you!

"Life is a temporary victory over the causes which induce death." - Sylvester Graham

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linestretch

I find myself thinking of him from time to time and wish he was still around. I have a lot of old video of him....



I was excited to see on Facebook that Josh's nephew (youngest of the family) joined his older sisters in making his first skydive after he hit 18 recently. The family has kept up the tradition of family skydives in Josh's memory every summer, adding the kids as they turn 18. B|
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke

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