While walking home from work the other day, I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a year. Once upon a time she was a neighbour in the first apartment I lived in after moving to Saskatoon. We were quick friends that initially bonded in anger over our slumlord's questionable – often illegal – practices, but then came to realize how similar our upbringing and personalities were ("only children" tend to be a breed apart).
"Deborah - where have you been?" she asked. "I was literally just thinking about you, wondering what you were up to!"
After telling her about my father's unexpected diagnosis, decline and much too early death, she related her own story of losing her mother. Every emotion, every circumstance I've been going through a new commonality between us.
It's funny how life works.
How just the right people seem to enter one's life at just the right time.
There's more to this existence than simple happenstance. There has to be. Coincidence could not possibly be so perfectly, intricately, wondrously orchestrated. Another friend explained it as such: "our souls all have something to learn in this lifetime. Different people help us achieve it…if we open ourselves to the possibility."
No matter how dark my mood or dour my outlook, I've constantly been reminded that I am not alone. These feelings may hold their own validity but they are finite. Under a rock, around the corner or within the fire lies the resolution the soul seeks, unveiled by both angels and devils alike.
My main goal right now is to outlive my mother.
As I'm 34-years-old and she's 65-years-old, this should happen without question. In the grand scheme of things though, the choice isn't entirely within my dominion. At the end of my father's life, he questioned living a frugal, healthy lifestyle only to spend his final days at war with his own body. "Eat the cookies." he told me in regards to denying my sweettooth. "Your grandfather did and he's eighty-five. I didn't and I won't make it past sixty-three."
There are too many external, unpredictable variables when it comes to choosing longevity. It is a wish, a whet desire, unattainable without luck and perhaps a bit of fate. Therefore, I've set my sights on another, less ambitious, measure of success: quality.
A revised bucket list. Short. Sweet. Challenging but within reach. These are my revised goals in life:
1. Climb Mt. Fuji. Airfare purchased. Hotel booked. Nine months to increase lung capacity.
2. Complete and publish "248 Days", a book I am writing in honour of my father about living with terminal illness. His story needs to be shared with a bigger audience. I will be his conduit.
3. Take my father's remains to Varanasi, India. He always wanted to visit this place. I will ensure that he does.
4. Learn how to cook at least one dish. It's embarrassing how unacquainted I am with the kitchen.
5. Stop counting the minutes and savour the days.
6. Visit the Isle of Mann, birthplace of the Clague surname.
7. Add one more language to my skill set and be able to speak it fluently. I know beginner's French and am now learning Japanese. I want to be able to speak these without cheat sheets though.
8. Photograph the Skeleton Coast of Africa.
9. Move to Paris.
10. Accept that fate doesn't always immediately present itself as positive.