The 2007 American Rob Reiner “dramedy” film, The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, served to coin the new philosophy adopted by so many, regardless of mixed reviews by film critics. While achieving a wish list of personal goals before coming face to face with God is not a novel concept, the idea of naming an actual list of things to do before you kick the bucket became a part of American culture with the release of the film that eventually silenced the criticism.
It was Benjamin Franklin who reminded the world once that nothing is certain but death and taxes when he spoke of the newly established U.S. Constitution in his role as Ambassador to France. In a sense, he was right. Death WILL come.
We can more easily grip the fact that death will come, than that it could potentially enter any of our lives in the form of a lone gunman in small town Connecticut. We grieve with the families of the fallen and strive for constitutional ways to make this right, but this evil has no logical answer but One.
What choice have we but to accept that there will be illness, untimely fates, and those departures that are too difficult to grip—some including the loss of innocence? This is why I believe everyone who has breath needs a bucket list of their own–one that is verbalized often to their inner circle.
My bucket list began to develop following the sudden death of my father and shortly thereafter my life-long childhood friend and close advisor. Both deaths came as a shock in the night, only to be discovered the next morning. Though my personal grief was too overwhelming to be measured, I resolved to put my chin up and keep on living in their memory. My bucket list was born.
Dear Reader, while I can tell you that many of the most popular items on Americans’ bucket lists include activities that would actually bring one closer to meeting their Maker (i.e. shark diving), my bucket list is relatively tame and generally does not include skydiving.
Long before the term bucket list was coined, my friend Jane and I used to giggle about our own funerals and all the diva demands we would leave behind for our families. Of course, we would over-inflate our egos by requesting that Elton John sing our parting swan song or doves be released into the sky for every year that we had lived. We’d exchange life’s most embarrassing moments for funeral fodder, like the time that pubescent Jane had stuffed her lime green swimsuit with “falsies” built into the bra only to realize that once she crawled out of the deep water following her most graceful pike that one of the “falsies” had slid down to her navel. She walked around for several minutes before realizing it.
Jane used to lie down on the front church pew after choir rehearsal and play dead while I’d pretend I was Sandi Patty singing Tom Fettke’s The Majesty and Glory of Your Name. We would laugh ‘til we’d cry! Bucket List item number 4 complete. Though we were laughing, I knew that it was the only funeral wish she really meant, for she was not a diva at all, but a humble servant.
Jane met Jesus in 2012. One of her bucket list items had always been to be skinny. She finally was, but not in a good way. She received her final wish of hearing from Heaven The Majesty and Glory of Your Name sung at her funeral. Like with my father, I didn’t get to say goodbye, but we had shared enough to know that she would want me to press on and pursue my bucket list.
Lord willing, I’m beginning 2013 by finding the highest mountaintop I can climb. There I’m going to either shout very loud or be very still. Not sure yet. Maybe both, but in no uncertain order. I’ll shout for my friend Jane and the people of Newtown, CT, including 6-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene whose rendition of Come Thou Almighty King penetrates the recent dark days of grief! Whatever happens, I’m going to witness something truly majestic. To Jane – Bucket list item number 1: Check!
Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper. Follow Brandi on Twitter @BrandiChambless