We all know what a bucket list is. It is the concept of creating a list of things you would love to accomplish before you die, aka, kick the bucket. It is usually a list of very aspirational things like, go on a safari, write a novel, stay in a hut over the ocean…
Based on my surgeon and oncologist’s assessments, I am quite sure that I am not going to kick the bucket any time soon.
But since I did get rather close to the bucket for a minute, I have decided to, instead, pull something out of it. Based on recent events, it has become clear that there is little time to waste when it comes to ticking things off my aspirational list. I am going to give you some backstory so you can see that cancer wasn’t the only catalyst for this decision, but was instead, the nail in the coffin (fun death pun!).
I’ve mentioned my father’s death before, a few times, in this blog, but I am going to put a new spin on it. My father, though not frugal, was the type who chose to forego opportunities as he was ‘saving for retirement.’ He loved to travel, especially to Italy, and I know that he had dreams of spending some significant time there once he retired.
Three months before my father turned 65, this healthy, non-smoking, marathon running man was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Three months after he turned 65, he died. He saved and saved for the things he would do once he was able to stop working and start living and what happened? He just stopped living.
This has become a blaring siren of a cautionary tale for me. I think about it often and try to place it in the context of my life. I am quite far from retirement. And I have 3 small kids to put through school. I am not in a position to throw caution to the wind and spend all my saved up cash like a total baller.
But what about living now? Tomorrow is not promised, so they say.
Last summer while I was in treatment, my husband and I had a very grown up convo where we decided that we were going to consciously put our marriage way down on the list of priorities in order to promote my health, the kids’ well-being, him maintaining his job (our insurance) and so on. We told each other that when the dust settled, we would start to re-build our marriage and we would take a nice vacation, just the two of us, to re-connect, commemorate and celebrate.
The notion of an adult-only trip with my husband was so aspirational that it was motivation to carry on through some of the roughest moments. I would be feeling awful, but would perk myself up thinking about the fact that there was a great vacation waiting on the other side of this crap.
At some point it occurred to me that this year would also mark our 10 year wedding anniversary, which seemed like a very solid reason to tack even more importance onto our impending mystery trip. Especially considering what went down on our honeymoon. Here is the quick version:
- About half of the guests at our rehearsal dinner contracted the Noro-Virus. It takes 24-48 hours to incubate before symptoms, so no one got sick until the night after the wedding. We know it happened at the rehearsal dinner because we have a 70 page report from the Chicago Department of Public Health who interviewed every single wedding guest exhaustively.
- Joe was one of the people who got sick. He, along with 5 other immediate family members, ended up in their own ward of the hospital while we waited for a diagnosis.
- We were scheduled to leave for our honeymoon the next day. Without knowing what everyone had yet, we begged the doctors to discharge Joe so we could go on the honeymoon. Giant mistake.
- Poor Joe is so sick, but takes one for the team and we fly to the fanciest resort in Cabo that we have saved up for, for years.
- A few hours after arriving, I get sick. I get REALLY sick. I end up spending 2 days on an IV in our hotel room with a Mexican doctor and nurse. The rest of the trip was spent wasting away, as I couldn’t eat anything but maybe a cracker here and there and the toilet was my new life-partner.
- Our honeymoon was spent with Joe running behind me carrying my IV while I simultaneously excreted liquid from multiple orifices.
- Our hard-earned dream honeymoon was a literal shit-storm.
- I was so devastated about losing our honeymoon that I even wrote a letter to Oprah to get a re-do. I am not kidding.
So my father dies before he can enjoy the fruits of his labor. My husband and I have stayed married for 10 years despite the fact that he held the garbage can so I could barf into it while I sat on the toilet on our honeymoon. I was diagnosed with cancer as a healthy, 35 year old woman. You know what time it is?
Its baller time, people. We have decided to blow it out. The bucket list has turned into the fuck-it list.
Is it slightly irresponsible to spend the amount of money we are about to spend on one vacation? FUCK IT.
Are we bad parents for leaving our kids for 10 days? FUCK IT.
Could we, perhaps, have chosen a destination that was in our hemisphere? FUCK IT.
I cannot tell you where we are going because I am worried about the influx of paparazzi (#grancer), but I can tell you that wherever I roam, I will look out at the world with wide, bright eyes and be thankful for every tomorrow I get.
On our way to our final destination we stayed a night in Los Angeles to see good friends. On the way to the airport I realized I had forgotten my toiletry bag which not only included my toiletries, but all my pills. To say I freaked out would be a wild understatement. I do NOT forget things so I was positive cancer had metastasized to my brain. It was the only logical conclusion.
Thankfully, I was able to have my in-laws who are watching my kids, FedEx it to me overnight in LA to the tune of $100+.
When it arrived, I had a mini-fiesta with the FedEx driver who thinks I’m an insane person (he’s right).
Now it’s wheels up for paradise—–
Addendum to the addendum-
When we went to check in for our international flight yesterday, we were told that due to mechanical issues, our flight was cancelled. Where we are headed is remote enough that there are only two flights a day from America. We were rebooked on a flight 30 hours later.
I started to sob. I mean, silent, fluid, weeping for the next 45 minutes. Not because of the inconvenience, not because I was sad I wouldn’t be in paradise the next morning. Because this trip is meant to be the bookend to my shitty year. This trip was when I planned to cut up my ‘cancer card’ for good. I was purely devastated that what was supposed to be the ultimate ‘good’ was starting terribly.
Don’t fret… I found my silver lining in that I was able to spend my birthday relaxing in the airport hotel and got to have a wonderful High Tea with my husband and two dear friends.
Ok- NOW wheels up for paradise…
3 Comments Add yours
Fabulous blog entry. Love you so much.
Found your blog through a friend and have followed along for many months. I had to comment because something very similar happened to me while trying to celebrate my 1 year cancer-versary which also coincided with my 10 year wedding anniversary fancy celebration trip! I spent over 7 hours standing in line at the airport just to be re-routed onto a flight the next day and cried and screamed just a bit/ a lot. I guess I tell you that because it is kinda nice to know another person who has gone through this who can understand how unfair this feels and to remind you that you have dealt with far tougher things (doesn’t make getting stuck at an airport/delayed trip any more fun). I hope you have a fantastic time making new memories, creating the start to the new chapter in your life story, and celebrating what a resilient woman you are. Happy Anniversaries!!
Seriously hilarious post! I’m so happy for you and hubby!!