Grief. Bucket Lists. Legacies.

Bernadettes Bucket List

I suppose that’s natural, considering that the revolving door called cancer caught me in its spin before leaving the hospital where Ray’s last battle was fought, that I find myself thinking about bucket lists these days.

Honestly, Ray was the bucket list master in our marriage. All I had to do was ride on the coattails of his. Their content so often captured my interest that they easily found their way onto our mutual list. If you like reading my messy musings, you can thank him for that. Were it not for his giving me a copy of The Artist’s Way, I would not be here today. (His bucket list included our creative spirits playing together.)

Not that I am blasé about this gift called life or this planet called earth or any creative endeavor inspired by our Creator, but close friends will tell you that – though I enjoy each day – a Bernadette who casts far into the future with her personal wishes is a rare sighting.

But making decisions on cancer treatment does funny things to one’s perspective. This mastectomy-stand-in for my breast brings a lot to surface about life-cuts that speak to life-noun, living-verb conversions.

For the first time in my life, I want to come up with a list all my own but am a bit stumped when it comes to getting jazzed about world-stuff – like parachuting or bungee jumping or kissing the Blarney Stone. Okay, wouldn’t mind the Blarney Stone thing – as that is in the land of my ancestors – but I would not be restless on my deathbed not having done that.

So, I guess that’s my starting point. What would leave me restless on my deathbed? I know. A morbid place to begin but, hey, it leads to an interesting question and maybe points to my challenge in making bucket lists. I might be looking in the wrong place for what fuels me.

Here’s the question – and I want you to join me on this: What if we came here with a spiritual bucket list, too? Things our soul wanted to accomplish or experience and, if we didn’t do them, we’d be restless for all eternity? All right. A bit dramatic there, but I dare you to consider a bucket list through that lens. Does anything start bubbling to the surface? It did for me.

What if some bucket lists aren’t about world places, but the people we meet there and how we engage with them? What if they aren’t about world accomplishments, but what we learn in the doing and the legacies we leave behind to lighten the way for others? What if some are scavenger hunts that we agreed to on the other side and we returned – heaven forbid – empty-handed?

The possibilities are endless with lists like that. Lists that points to where our REAL joys lie because they answer to the way God wired us.

As I look at settling my deathbed restlessness, words like legacy, creativity, inspiration and service come to mind. What can I do with the creative gifts and inspirations God has given me? How can I be of service in lightening the way for those God puts on my path?

My new bucket list qualifier is this: If you can do [fill in the blank with legacy, creativity, inspiration, service] and make it fun, put it on the list.

Now, I’m not living my life with purpose. I am living my life like it’s a bucket list!

Cool, huh? So, here are the first two things that popped onto my list.

  1. An abandoned book project, using Bernadette’s Pages: An Intimate Crossroad. I am deathbed-restless when I think about its message of love and forgiveness sitting on pallets in a storage unit – or being carted off to the dump after I die. I feel excited – even a little rebellious – when I think about copies being abandoned on windshields, park benches and carnival ride seats, with a note telling the finder that the book is a gift for them or someone they know.

Psst: Contact me if you’d like to help abandon! Especially if you are traveling across country or have an imaginative way to abandon large quantities of them. I don’t want to go to my grave with recycled books weighing down my spirit so I am not asking bucket list buddies to pay for these abandoned books.

  1. REALLY have coffee with all the people I have bumped into and said we should have coffee sometime. So, if you are one of those people and I call you … uh huh … you know you have to say yes. After all, you are on my bucket list and qualified as fun.

I would absolutely delight in your sharing at least one of the things on your bucket list in the comments below. (I might like to add it to mine!) AND, if my “deathbed restlessness” brings up another one for you, I would love to hear that, too. We’ll put a little magic-mojo on it!

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Remember, sharing is caring. If you found something here that inspired, you may know someone else who will feel the same. XO Bernadette

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9 thoughts on “Grief. Bucket Lists. Legacies.

  • October 21, 2017 at 8:04 pm
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    I don’t know Bernadette, I have a lot of trouble accepting ‘bucket lists’ with its intimation of “before I die”. I would discourage my patients from thinking that way. A living list to change my life right now? That I totally agree with. What would I do? Not much different from what I do now. I love the volunteer work I do and would stop if I didn’t. But I am fortunate to meet the people I do and the people who work in that sector. My art? Rotten and useless probably, but I do it because I love to do it. I’m perfectly happy to paint over them. I don’t feel ‘precious’ about them. I’m feckless I guess, but the joy of the paint and colour is what gets me in. I have these weird journals that I do in front of TV at night. I stick and paste any pictures from ads and so on that appeal to me. Today in the paper there is a cute little girl in a fluffy pink tutu, she’ll be cut and pasted in my book. At the moment my preferred pen colour is pink, but next one might be green. I write poetry and once again, I write for the pleasure and for myself, especially if I spit the dummy. I don’t let anger linger, I get it off my chest. Music, friends here and o/s, family all make up my tapestry of life. I’ve known friends with life threatening illnesses to move and start a different life, that they SHOULD have started before they got sick. I can only suggest that we should all start to look at what we don’t like doing, drop them and do what we WANT to do. Enjoy your new life Bernadette, you’ll find your way. We all love and want the very best for you, Jan

    ps My go to mantra is, “Only great good will come of this”. Told me by my angels. I trust that completely

    • October 21, 2017 at 8:52 pm
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      HeeHeeHee … I’ve been waiting for you. I knew the “before I die” bucket list intimation would ruffle your tutu – but “living list” would not be typed into a google search, hon. And it is my living wish that this Messy Room of mine get out there!! 😉 As for this new life … it is still very surreal here without Ray [in body] though he does well to get me messages and even a chuckle or two. This bucket list quest is to remind me of how contented I have been to ride on others wishes – big or small. It is time for me to get out of the kitchen, put on my tutu, and hostess the party. XO Love you, Sweetie!

      • October 21, 2017 at 8:58 pm
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        Love you dear Bernadette as you know. The last sentence is the one I want to hear. I posted a blog from long ago in Wayfarers. It popped up in my email and it is from long ago and far away, where you were going through the same process. <3

        • October 21, 2017 at 9:12 pm
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          EeeeGad … The same process? I am a stubborn one, eh? I will have to hop over and check out that post. 🙂

  • October 21, 2017 at 10:09 pm
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    I can relate to all you say, this disease was my wake up call too and finding The Artists Way was inspirational to help me express what I wanted to leave behind, as a memoir for my children and future generations. It has taken me 4 years to write our family memories, so my mission has been completed and now I feel peaceful and ready for any new challenges I will face in the next chapter of my story.
    I admire your courage and strength in so many ways. You had been an inspiration to me at the perfect time, when I needed to know I was not alone.

    I congratulate and thank you dear Bernadette, for sharing your heart with us, you may never know how many people you have helped and encouraged, but I for one would like to thank you from my heart to yours and let you know, I am here for you too.

    Now to get back to your question… no cuts to my long story here (lols)
    but I am now feeling content and have peace of mind since I began writing and thankfully no need for bucket lists for me now, but rather appreciating each moment of each day as I wish for you.

    • October 22, 2017 at 9:58 am
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      Victoria, I, too, am grateful for the timing of our meeting … and that we did not have to swim that vast ocean between us to do so! 😉 You share so much with so many, hon. It’s an honor to be of any “lift” or “light” on your path. I guess I am where you were four years ago, in asking what I can leave behind and who will want to carry my offerings on after I leave. Ray and I had no children so there are no natural assumptions that can be made here. I anticipate peace when my/our creative children/gifts are cast into the bucket and out on the wings of angels. YOU know the joy of that! Love ya, hon! XO

    • October 22, 2017 at 10:01 am
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      So, how close to the top of your list is this, Wendy? Looks VeRY cOOL … and I want you to tell me about it when you get back! 🙂

  • November 8, 2017 at 10:03 pm
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    No inspiring thoughts on the subject at hand. Just grateful you’re here. xoxo

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