All of life had been the climb. With each step up she had the knowledge that once she got to the top she would have to jump a long way down, but it had seemed so far off it didn't really seem to matter. As she climbed she had a lot of time to think, to plan, to stop along the way but then, before she knew it, she was there. The long board stretched out before her but as she walked the final years before the jump the board seemed to get shorter and shorter. And then she was really there, in her cap and gown, with nowhere else to go. Partly she wanted to turn back, but she knew it wasn't possible to relive the 22 years of the climb. So she jumped. She jumped into the world that had been awaiting her all of her life, and as the first year passed she prayed that she wouldn't fall too hard.
Over a year after the jump she still hadn't quite figured out how to swim in the deep waters of the real world. Yet with each wave she had begun to realize that she was continually kept above water. She hadn't noticed it before but in her climb she had been collecting things that would keep her afloat. Love and friendship, experience and confidence. Dependence, independence and the room to make mistakes. And as she began to look around she saw that a few of those who had jumped with her were beginning to link up, to stick together, to add buoyancy to the other by words, phone calls, and visits.
Every now and then she would look back at the climb wistfully, the walk down the board and the frightening jump into the deep end. Then she would inevitably turn back to the swim feeling nothing but thankful, for she had never had to take the steps alone. In fact, she realized, she had never kept afloat on her own.
It was always the others keeping her up.