I've always dreamt of flying. Not flying a plane or going up in a hot air balloon. Those were dreams for other people. Even the idea of a parachute jump didn't do it for me. No, I've always lived my life by the maxim "go big or go home." I wanted to fly in the circus. Fly through the air like an acrobat on a trapeze.
My mother always claimed it was obvious why I had that dream. I was different, I had a problem. Dreams, she said, were all I had. My dream was good for me - just a silly fantasy making a hopeless girl feel better. But, she'd sigh, if only my dream was something more realistic. Something I could use to make something of myself.
Needless to say I grew up always believing that my mother didn't even see who I was. I think I would have given up on my lifelong dream and proving her right. Living a very unsatisfying life and never achieving anything. But then Ruth came into my life.
Ruth was one of those people who are part of your family but you can never quite work out how they fit in. She may have been a distant cousin or just a friend of my grandfathers. I got a different answer every time i asked. To start with I called her aunt but that didn't last long. To start with I thought she was stuffy and would never understand me but that lasted even less time. The lessons she taught me will last forever.
I'd sit there moaning about my mother. About how much I wanted to fly and couldn't she just say something nice about me for once? Was it really too much to ask that your own family believed in you I'd rant, waving my hands in anger.
Ruth would grab my hands and squeeze them tight. "Bethany, baby, I believe in you" she'd say with a smile so sincere all my doubts would fade to nothing. "if you want something badly enough I believe you'll make it happen. Go big or go home I always say."
It's been many years since those days when I doubted myself and felt so alone. Ruth played a major role in getting me where I am now. Not physically but emotionally she was there encouraging and supporting me all through my teenage years. She died last year but I remembered her words and kept going.
And here I am today. My lifelong dream about to come true. I'm nervous - who wouldn't be? - but excited too. Oh, there's my cue.
Reaching the starting point I stop, as planned, and whilst waiting psych myself up one last time. Go big or go home. And it's too late for home so nerves be damed, I'll go as big as possible.
Woosh! I'm off, building up speed for a while and then suddenly the moment comes and I'm in the air exactly as planned, backflips and twists with the other acrobats. Wowing the audience. What a buzz! It doesn't last long but for a few minutes I'm up there. Flying. Wheelchair and all.