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My oldest daughter has made an unusual request for her 14th birthday gift this year — a chicken suit. Her birthday is in May so she’s making sure I’m aware of the request early enough so I have no excuses. She provided a website and a price and an explanation…it’s #1 on her “bucket list”. Like any good mother of a soon-to-be 14-year-old, I skipped the part about the chicken suit (I’ll come back to that in a minute) and immediately focused on the bucket list.

“A bucket list? Why do you have a bucket list?”

“Duh, it’s things I want to do before I kick the bucket — you know, die.”

“I know what a bucket list is, I don’t like it. Can it just be a life list?”

“No, that’s stupid…it’s a bucket list.”

And so ended the conversation about the bucket list — with her at least. The conversation continued in my mind… I listed all the reasons I did not want her to even think about kicking the bucket much less to have a “to do” list to accomplish before that day arrives.

I know death.

It’s real to me.

I envy people who have made it through life without experiencing the death of someone they love. I’m not one of them. I’ve been to too many funerals, said good-bye too many times, wished for one more conversation far too often. I could list them, but I won’t. But, the list includes aunts and uncles who I loved and who loved me, an older cousin whose friendship I cherished and who loved me and let me follow her around, my grandparents who I spent every summer of my life with (including every birthday — yes, even sweet 16), two very close friends who died during our college years, a brother-in-law who taught me how to play the guitar and tennis, and my parents. I’ve had at least one student from the class I used to teach die unexpectedly on her way to school one morning, and I had a young boy die in my arms at school on a beautiful sunny spring day.

I know death.

I’ve seen it, many times.

I have a bad habit of telling everyone to “be careful”. When I leave a phone call, “be careful”. When I sign off an email, “be careful”. When I write a card, “be careful”. Because I know…

When I don’t hear from a friend or family member when I know they’re traveling or just out, my mind immediately goes to the place of “something happened”. I’m the one who tells you to call or to text when you get there, just so I know.

So, back to the bucket list.

I have a bucket list I suppose. Things I need to do before I’m no longer a part of this world. I’ll share #1 with you if you promise not to tell anyone… #1 – meet Cher. Yes, that Cher.

So, my soon-to-be 14 year-old gorgeous, intelligent, witty, fiercely independent daughter’s bucket list — the one that makes me cringe in fear just to type those words — #1 on her list… run through downtown Nashville wearing a chicken suit. I’ll help her accomplish this (and oh yes, I’ll video it!) because my life experiences aren’t hers, my fears aren’t hers, my worries aren’t hers. I’ll help her accomplish her bucket list, and I’ll try not to tell her to “be careful”.

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