So, the question is this: If you know your life has an imminent expiration date, how do you choose to live the remainder of it?
We’ve all heard people talk about their bucket lists. They would travel the world, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, go bungee jumping, and maybe buy a flashy car. I’d like to believe that I have a list too. If I were to conjure one up, it might include travel, front row tickets to watch my favorite bands perform and several bonfires on a beach (s’more making mandatory).
When my mom was diagnosed, she didn’t have a bucket list. She had a f*@% list. She put her head to the ground, focused on the demands of chemotherapy and did little else. When friends urged her to take an extravagant trip or try a new, fancy restaurant, she said, in a nutshell, f*@% it. (Of course she didn’t actually say that since she never cursed, but I’m paraphrasing here.)
And the truth is I understood. My mother was never much for indulgence of any variety even when she was healthy. Her idea of a perfect night was reading the paper in bed, while talking on the phone to me or to a friend with Letterman or Leno on in the background. If the ordinary, simple pleasures satisfied her then, why would an international trip be more fulfilling now?
When forced to say how she wanted to spend an afternoon if she wasn’t bedridden, she’d reply that she wanted to be with family and friends. That’s all she ever wanted. Not exotic trips, not restaurants outings, not even books, music or TV.
One time, during a hospitalization toward the end of her life, she said, unprompted, life is my family and friends. That’s what is most important, she said with misty eyes. So, I suppose, in the end, she simply wanted to be surrounded by her life – the people in it.
When I really think about it, I believe I’d probably act the same way. Maybe I’m just my mother’s daughter, but saying f*@% it and living life as you’ve always enjoyed it, seems meaningful enough to me.