The beauty of this sky is a wonder to behold. Bold sunrises with golden yellows and orange, even bolder sunsets with vivid purples and red. Although both are stunning and captivating, it seems the most beauty is often seen in the sky’s last light.

The same can be true for us humans as well.

This blog covers a tribute to a loved one lost.

Recently, I was contacted by a friend and fellow skydiver who’s cousin passed away prematurely. It’s never easy to lose a loved one, but it is especially hard when it is untimely and unexpected. Her cousin, although not a jumper, was an artist who loved the world around her and nature above all things. That being said, Ms. K thought a custom catch (quite literally) in her name would be the best way to honor her. She wasn’t entirely sure what route she wanted to go but sent me her idea, “I’m thinking a big heart, and then her name, Amy, in red, with sky art all around it. Not sure how you could do it or if you even feel right doing it, but that’s what I’m thinking in my head.”
Of course I felt honored to do the piece, but similar to Ms. K, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. In order to capture the sort of image she was looking for it would require some form of removable stencil; strong enough to endure the winds of freefall but weak enough to remove without damage after flight. Up until that point, we had only toyed with the concept but had never actually attempted any such jump. We told Ms. K as much but agreed to at least attempt to make the catch.
First step was to determine what she wanted the final piece to resemble. I sketched a couple simple examples for her consideration.




She preferred the third sketch. This was my take on her original idea. We’re using the letters of Amy’s name themselves to form to heart and then coloring the heart with an accent that represents her personality. Ms. K had written that Amy, “was shy and introverted with new people but very warm, caring, and compassionate with her loved ones…[and]… a bit of a free spirit – she moved out to San Francisco, thousands of miles away from her friends and family, to pursue her artwork and enjoy the art community.” So we agreed that purple, which is the color of imagination and often associated with independence, creativity, and mystery, should serve as her accent. The rest of the piece would be captured in greys and blues, her favorite colors.
After agreeing on a look, the heart was sketched and painted to the canvas.




Then came the hard part, coving up the heart so it wouldn’t be painted in freefall. This was a rather painstaking process and involved individually cutting mini segments of tape to match the heart piece-by-piece. Totally worth it for Amy, but probably not a process I will soon repeat.




The following Friday was favorable weather, so we went to make the catch. The sky was crisp and clear. Only a delicate scatter of small puffy clouds lined the horizon. It was meant to be this day.



We got our paints out and our gear on and headed off to honor this creative soul.








As we climbed to altitude I looked out the windows and reflected on a life lived. It was still late winter at this time so many of the fields were grey. They laid dried and cracked, expired from the harsh elements of the world around them. But there was also new life on the horizon. Budding fields with the firs shoots of green signifying the coming of the spring and the beginning of a new cycle of life. It is true what they say, ‘Life goes on.’ And that is a beautiful thing. I would guess it is especially important to remind ourselves of that in times like these; lest we remain lost in the grey fields forever.

It was almost time to exit. So I gave Amy a kiss and said a prayer for her spirit. It was time to fly now. Amy, give us wings!


















It was a beautiful jump and from the looks of it once we landed, a successful one at that! It was hard to say for sure, but from what I could see, the stencil had made it through freefall. I got out of my gear and settled down for the final round, removal of the stencil. This was a rather nerve-racking process. It had to be done while the piece was still wet or else the paint would dry and seal the stencil beneath it. I used tweezers and toothpicks to gently lift the tape off in pieces as I held my breath.





Slowly, Amy began to reveal herself once more.




I pulled back the final pieces of tape, and there she was. Shining bright in the glorious sunlight, Amy, our beloved.




Though Amy’s time on this Earth has come to an end, in her last light we can already see new life springing forth. This piece of sky, a first ever of its kind; the product of a series of events set into motion and brought on only by her departure. Curious readers who will see this and ponder the life of this ‘free-spirited’ Amy who loved nature so much. And future artists who will further grow and cultivate the ideas we started here…all beautiful things. All inspired by a beautiful life.

Thank you, Amy.