About a mile from my house is a very long ribbon of a bridge that crosses over the Neuse River. I used to drive over it on my way to work when I worked full time, and the view of New Bern and its boats and water were a spiritual experience for me twice a day.
I don’t go over that bridge much any more, so I was really surprised when, the other night, I came up with the idea of jumping off of it.
The feeling of letting my family down churned around and around in my crying head and turned into the question of why I put them through it. I could put a stop to all of it that night, I thought, if I wanted to.
And I thought of the bridge.
It was tall enough that if I jumped from it, I probably wouldn’t survive, and it seemed like in the past year or so I had heard about some other woman who had hurled herself over to her death.
So I had a way to do it and a reason to do it: I could not bear to be where I was right then.
But I didn’t jump over the bridge because I had made promises to people that I would call them before I did anything that shared the category of bridge jumping.
She answered. Thank God, she answered. And she listened to why I wanted to jump off the bridge and she told me that what I was feeling, while very real, was very temporary. She told me that she couldn’t talk me out of jumping over the bridge, but maybe I should wait until tomorrow and see how I felt about it. She told me to go to my family members and tell them I love them and that I was glad they were in my life, and to go up to bed and go to sleep.
And so that’s what I did. I blinked and a full night of sleep had passed. It was the next morning and I didn’t feel like jumping off a bridge at all.
It only takes a moment of uncertainty, I realized, to jump.