Bucket List

“If the family wanted to travel to Jerusalem, I would be very excited and eager. I would love to enter her walls.”

Dearest Rachel –

I remember you telling me, in that last week before the accident, of a time not too far back when you were talking to a friend. It might have been Chompers’ Mommy Kim; I don’t recall who it was. She had mentioned to you that there were two specific places that she wanted to go some time during her lifetime, both having to do with swimming (which of course was something you always loved to do; I actually found a journal of yours from our trip to Middle Bass Island in 2019 that marked down every time you swam, culminating in one day when you swam seven times in various spots around the island): the Dead Sea in Israel, and a hot spring in Iceland known as the Blue Lagoon.

To hear you tell it, you were mildly embarrassed to admit, “well, actually, I’ve been to both places, and you’re right. They’re both wonderful; you should go there if you have the chance to.”

Yes, yours was a shorter life than many, but you did manage to cram a whole lot of bucket list items into it, didn’t you?

I’ve been finding so many little notes scattered here and there throughout the house, most of them on your side of the bedroom. I want to thank you for doing so, to some extent: I mean, I haven’t left any such paper trail for you or Daniel to have found any insight into my mindset had we switched places. At the same time, there is so much I find that I didn’t realize you were thinking about at a given point of time. Would that we could have talked about your hopes and dreams, rather than you simply discussing them with a piece of paper here or there.

Although, to be fair, had you done so, I wouldn’t have these to remember you by now.

As far as I can tell, you wrote this note back in 2009. It wasn’t until five years later that we had the opportunity to actually go to Israel, with a group of about forty of us from church and whatnot. Karl Claussen was supposed to be leading the tour along with Pastor Scott, but had to back out once he switched radio station jobs: I think his original station was promoting it, and once he was working for another, he wasn’t part of the tour anymore. Pity, that.

And of course, the folks were supposed to come, too, but then Dad had his hip replacement scheduled just before the trip and had to bow out. So that was another loss. Still, we certainly enjoyed ourselves there. And yes, you swam in the Dead Sea both times.

October 2014
February 2018

To be sure, the Dead Sea wasn’t necessarily the highlight of either trip – after all, there’s precious little in the way of theological connections to the place like there is with Jerusalem, Capernaum, or even places like the Megiddo valley or the like. But it was the activity you enjoyed above all else, and when you were happy, that was good enough for me.

Not that everyone was happy there – I still remember vividly on our first trip someone being dragged away from the sea by his fellow bros as we approached. He was red-faced, and was leaking from every orifice in his head. My guess is that he pulled one of those redneck “Y’all watch this!” things and attempted to dive underwater, maybe even open his eyes, and paid dearly for it. I might go out on a limb and suggest alcohol might have been involved in such a brill-ain’t decision.

As for the Blue Lagoon, I don’t have much in the way of stories to tell about it. To quote Princeton in Avenue Q “I wish I had taken more pictures.” I remember the water being warm, but not quite like the hot tubs on the ship. You can see the steam in the few pictures I have (which may be why there aren’t that many of them)

I’m sorry, honey, I can’t recall much else about it at the moment.

I mean, it’s not like you didn’t accomplish a whole bunch of other things that would have been considered ‘bucket list’ items for a lot of other people. There was the parasailing you did at DisneyWorld

Ziplining on the Oasis of the Seas:

And just last year, when you first saw the brochures for Camp Awana, you saw the “blob” they had on their lakefront, and literally told me that bouncing onto – and being bounced off of – one of those things was a bucket list item of yours (you’d actually been disappointed at Coco Cay when they didn’t have anything like that, in fact).

Since I was the one to put enough weight on the blob to truly send you flying, I don’t have footage of that – I was not about to risk falling off the blob with iPhone in hand, you understand. Still, you seemed quite satisfied by the reaction.

So, yeah… you really did manage a lot of things that a lot of people would have had on their bucket list. Given the limited amount of time you had, you did pretty well for yourself, I suppose.

There were always a few more things left to do, though, and we would have added more as we went along (especially as things might finally be opening up at this point!), but you took care of a lot. And while I understand that heaven probably makes any of these fun activities that we can do on earth seem like utter drudgery, I do still wish you were here with me to plan a few more yet to come. It would certainly make the coming years so much more worth looking forward to.

Until then, though…

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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