A different kind of bucket list

Three years ago, I was minding my own business, juggling the things we juggle plus a brand new baby, when a brain tumor came and smacked me inside the head. One doctor awkwardly called it “bulky,” another said I might die that night if I didn’t get it taken care of (waiting for six weeks for surgery was…is there a stronger word than agonizing?).

The worst part of it was when I looked at my teeny tiny baby and imagined her growing up without me. Viv not even remembering her mother. Sonya navigating childhood without me to guide her.

I’ve never had a bucket list, never been drawn to them. But in those weeks that felt like eternity, my maternal responsibilities, and the possibility of not fulfilling them, loomed large.

All I wanted to be able to do was live so that Amelia could breastfeed for six weeks, to get that start. And make sure Viv learned to swim. And be there for Sonya starting middle school. And the list began.

It’s not your traditional bucket list. I don’t have things on there like skydiving and climbing Mt. Everest and swimming with dolphins. Instead – kindergarten graduation and horse camp and puberty are the main features. The whole brain tumor debacle crystallized, for me, the rites of passage that demand a mother’s touch.

At any rate, my bucket list is in a note on my phone, and three years after it started, I regularly visit it, check things off, and feel immense relief that I was there to help Amelia start preschool and take my kids on another week-long lake vacation with their cousins.

Three years ago, exactly, I laid awake petrified that my kids would wake up in the morning to a dead mother. Last night, I checked off another item on the list: family trip to Disney World. It’s so easy to get caught up in the details of “should I buy that latte,” but for me, in late January, the budgetary problems can go suck an egg, because I’m so very grateful to be living my life each day.

This note from Sonya at that time still makes me cry.

2 thoughts on “A different kind of bucket list”

    1. It was really awful. But my therapist told me in the middle of it that it would be the best thing that would ever happen to me, and even though I hated her in that moment, she wasn’t wrong. I feel gratitude much more deeply now, and know just how easy it would be to lose it all…


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