Have you ever created a bucket list, or composed a list of things that you wanted to experience/do/see before you died? When I was twelve years old, my dad sat me down to jot down ten things we wanted to do together within the upcoming year. Confused about the rush of wanting to accomplish these ten tasks, he explained to me that the list would not only bring us closer, but also help us understand the importance of living on the edge. Throughout my adolescence my dad had been more than just a father to me. He was my mentor, my best friend, and my hero. He was a man I loved immeasurably and one who taught me about courage, dignity and love while undergoing the battle of his life. The most important lesson I learned from him was that life is seen as a process, a dynamic with unpredictable curves, stops, reverses and new paths over which we may not have control. A few months after my dad and I had created our list I found out that he had been diagnosed with stage three-pancreatic cancer.
The doctors gave him six months to live and advised him to attempt to tackle the cancer with surgery, chemo and radiation. From the time I was twelve until I was sixteen my dad was in and out of remission. His first round of pancreatic cancer disappeared after a year and a half. He was cancer free for a few short months, and then relapsed. This time the cancer returned to his pancreas and metastasized to his stomach and liver. He endured eight rounds of chemo and numerous surgeries. Despite his struggles, each day he found a way to wake up with a smile, positive attitude and a will to live. My dad’s mindset never changed. Through his journey battling cancer, he taught everyone how to “live.” Although he encountered many bumps in the road he still found a way to make checking off the tasks on our bucket list a priority.
As a family we began crossing off experiences. We went scuba diving, swam with dolphins, went to pro football games, he bought a boat, we took a trip to Peru, went white water rafting, went to Disney world, etc. I believe that the list not only taught my entire family how to “live” and appreciate the simple things in life, but it was also a reflection of the incredible person my dad is and still is to this day. Although my dad’s struggles brought pain and suffering to my family, it also taught us the true meaning of life. I stopped expecting the worst. Before, I always thought that worrying helps prepare you for disaster. I learned that nothing prepares you.
We spend so much time in our lives suffering; we don’t need any rehearsals. The worst will find us, and we will have to deal with it when it does. Because after all life’s uncertainties have the power to bring out the best in people. I believe that it is wishful thinking for anyone to expect a return to the good old days of certainty and stability, since change and uncertainty are among the most characteristic aspects of our time. This being true, I came to realize that the important aspect of life was to learn to accept these changes, to live with uncertainty, and, above all, to be flexible enough to adjust to whatever situations might arise. Live in the present moment and have no regrets. Strive to achieve what’s on your bucket list, because after all, life is a gift that can end at any moment.