Tomorrow, my husband and I leave for Florida. His bucket list includes a trip to somewhere warm with palm trees, and to visit with his sisters while he is still well enough to travel. Turns out both his sisters are going to be in Florida at the beginning of February, so yay, two wishes on his bucket list taken care of in one shot.
We hear the term “Bucket List” splashed around a lot. There’s even a movie with the title. Of course, it comes from the term “kick the bucket” which is a colloquialism for “to die.” According to Phrase Finder, “kick the bucket” can be traced back to the late 1700s. “The wooden frame that was used to hang animals up by their feet for slaughter was called a bucket. Not unnaturally they were likely to struggle or to spasm after death and hence kick the bucket.” There you have it…more stuff to cram into the useless trivia file in your head.
On closer inspection of the term…I would like to examine the “bucket” in “kick the bucket.” Buckets can be filled with anything, carried from place to place, used as a means to fill a larger container, as the receptacle to clean up a mess, or put out a fire…sometimes lots of good stuff can be loaded into buckets. They used to carry bricks from the kiln to the builders—in buckets. I like buckets. It seems to me that buckets serve a very useful purpose. They are meant to be filled up—it is their only true function.
I suppose the most important thing about the bucket list is to fill it with memories. To see and do and go and experience things. To reach out and touch the sun-warmed brick of the Pyramids, or the cold iron of the Eiffel Tower. To return to a place of enormous nostalgic meaning and walk the streets, cross the fields, feel the shade of the trees lining that special path. To have with you that one person who will share the profundity of these times, who will savor them, who will remember them for you when you no longer are able…the person who will be the other you when the time comes. One cannot build a life together without creating memories.
As for my husband and I, we have buckets of memories. Letters and cards, emails, photographs, videos. We had our wedding filmed. We have recorded our life together, carefully, reverently. All these have been collected, and filed, and named, and labelled. I have albums and disks, and tubs of photos I want to make into albums yet. And each photo is a memory. When I say I have buckets of them, I honestly, literally, do. Number one on my bucket list is to fill more buckets.
There are never enough, you know, but you won’t know this for sure until you are faced with the actual time when the bucket list moves from dreams to reality. You will fret about what is not in the bucket yet, and you will strive to see that it is in there…while there is yet time. No trip away can do that. Not really. Not so much as saying the things you need to say. And hearing back the things you need to hear. The intimacies are what make the photographs and the memories live. We look at the photographs someday, and remember the day and the smell of the breeze and the occasion, and we remember the one in the photograph, and then we remember love and joy. Yes, I definitely will need more buckets….
Loving can hurt
Loving can hurt sometimes
But it’s the only thing that I know
When it gets hard
You know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive.
We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Our hearts are never broken
And time’s forever frozen still…
Loving can heal
Loving can mend your soul
And it’s the only thing that I know
I swear it will get easier
Remember that with every piece of you
And it’s the only thing we take with us when we die.
So you can keep me
Inside the pocket
Of your ripped jeans
Holding me close
Until our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone
And if you hurt me
That’s OK baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go
You can fit me
Inside the necklace you got when you were 16
Next to your heartbeat
Where I should be
Keep it deep within your soul
Wait for me to come home…
Ed Sheeran, “Photograph.”