Around the year 2003 or so, I compiled a bucket list. Instead of calling it things to do before I die, I referred to it as Things To Do Before It’s Too Late. Because let’s face it, if it happens that I live till I’m 95, I highly doubt I will be skydiving then :). So skydiving was checked off my “to do list” in 2003.
I accomplished quite a few things on my list in 2003, mainly because I had a renewed sense of life that year. I had conquered dialysis, was a double transplant recipient, left cancer in my dust, and was diabetes free for the first time in 20 years! I was invincible in 2003 :). So I went skydiving, completed the Philly marathon with my very own camera crew following me and making a documentary that aired on television that year, threw a huge party in which I invited every single person I knew, and started training for a 75 or 150 mile bike ride. There was no stopping me!
Thirteen years later and I have that “itch” again. Most likely because I am faced every single day with the idea of my mortality. Being in a dialysis room, I can be sitting next to someone for months, 3 days a week, hours at a time, and the next treatment I walk in, I may hear that person died. That has happened to me twice this go round with dialysis.
These people become your friends. You learn a lot about someone spending that much time with them. You become each other’s support system. You have a deep understanding for what that person may be facing on any given day. And POOF! That quickly everything changes.
Kevin and I talked about our bucket lists one day. He had traveled all over the world and seen all kinds of things. He had eaten exotic foods that I would never think about even putting a morsel of in my mouth. He had come face to face with a bear. Shared a tank with a few sharks. Ridden on the backs of a camel, an elephant, and a bull.
As he gushed about adventure after adventure and my jaw got closer and closer to the ground, I noticed a few tears well up in his eyes. After not saying anything for a moment, he turned to me and said, “You know, Mo, life isn’t about those amazing adventures. I wonder everyday if I have taught my kids all I can teach them, served my wife with all the love she deserves, made a real difference to someone else in this world.”
Kevin is gone now. He’s moved on to be with the angels. Although his chair is empty next to me, I know I have an angel sitting on my shoulder every treatment.
I came home and looked over my “to do list” today. It’s chock full of travel plans and simple things I never learned to do when I was younger like changing a tire or whistling or juggling. It has some big things too. Like making someone else’s life a bit easier everyday. Or doing something for someone anonymously that they cannot possibly repay.
Having gotten to know Kevin as well as I did, I am willing to bet he taught his children very well. And if he treated his wife as I saw him treat everyone he crossed paths with, I’m sure his wife felt loved as well.
And Kevin, you made a real difference for me. At a time when I feel like rough times keep piling up, it was a blessing to be reminded that the important thing is to remember to take care of each other. Share love with everyone I meet. My legacy is not going to be how many daring adventures I encountered or what amazing places I visited. It’s going to be how I made people feel and sharing the gifts I have been given to make this world a better place for someone else.