What do you want to do before you die? A Realistic Bucket List

I thought about a story that has to do with this topic.

It’s about two middle aged guys who are dying at the same time who meet up with each other in hopes to find people that understand what they’re going through. They go on to write a bucket list and go their separate ways. One guy goes and does all these incredible random things.  He travels to Cambodia, buys dessert in some obscure French restaurant, tries to break a Guiness world record and fails. He’s happy. He comes home and gets in touch with his friend and over some coffee asks him what he did.

He says that he went to see his neurotic father and stood there as he yelled at him and verbally abused him. He visited his mom across the country and sat there for a few weeks and all she could talk about was how much she hated his father and why she divorced him. He traveled to meet his brother and sister and all they told him was how much he was worthless and pathetic and never did anything with his life. No one knew he was dying.

The first guy asks the second guy why he did that, and he replies, “I did it because they’re my family, and I know they’re not perfect and they’ll never be perfect; I know that. But I only have one family. We spent so much time hurting each other that at the end of the day, the only thing we’d ever wish for, was one more day with family.”

The next day they get up early to see the sunrise on top of a hill. The second person, the one who saw his family, lays down and falls asleep. He never wakes up.

The last thing you see is the first person knocking at the front door of some random house. The door opens and he says, “Hey mom. . .”


36 responses to “What do you want to do before you die? A Realistic Bucket List

  1. This kind of really hit home for me right now. I was talking with my Dad the other day about family, and it’s a long story, but basically my mother hasn’t spoken to me in about 4 years following my parents’ separation. (At the time, she’d asked me never to talk to my Dad again – I chose to continue a relationship with him). My dad has always encouraged me to try and maintain a relationship with her, and for me, I tried for a couple of years, but I think you can only take so much rejection, for now anyway, and my coping mechanism hasn’t been to “close the door” – well, perhaps, but I let her know clearly that when she was ready, the door would always be open. I guess just as a way of being able to live without heartache until the day she is on the same page and ready to put the past in the past. I’m a strong believer in waiting for people to come to decisions on their own – not forcing them before they’re ready. And I guess at the end of the day, for right now anyway, you just kind of have to hold on to hope.

    • Yeah, I hate it when family pulls you all these different directions and then there’s teams and sides and stuff. It hurts knowing family, most of the time, is one of those things that could never be cured, never be perfect after it hit a point of no return. But, you should always hope. Maybe it’s not there now, but it’s definitely something you want to hold onto.

      Good luck Em.

  2. Wow, this is heartbreaking. I would love to see it played out though, into a full story with dialog and everything. It’s so sad but I have a feeling it’s not that far from the truth that many people today experience. I wish there was some way to sugar coat family relationships, but it seems like lately they’re getting worse and worse. Which seems so counter-intuitive, considering you’re born into the family and they are supposed to love you for you.

    • Would I play it out in a movie? Or write the whole story? I really don’t know. Maybe. There’s a chance. It’s just one of the many thoughts I had. I do write fiction, and I have a blog where I write full fiction in it’s entirety:


      I do believe family relationships are falling apart. I don’t believe in much religion, but one reason families stayed together was because of religion. Now religion is falling away in most families. Another reason is technology. With technology moving so fast, it’s hard for an older generation to keep up. Which to some children makes it seem like their parents aren’t knowledgeable when it comes to finances, innovation, and the Internet.

  3. Wow this is a powerful story. The biggest thing that I got out of it, is that that we are all here to experience love in the highest forms to ourselves and the people around us. Truly beautiful. Thankyou =)

  4. Totally not what I was expecting from the title Jon but very thought provoking. As ridiculous as it might sound, I’d never even heard of bucket lists until a couple of weeks ago. Your post certainly puts those lists in perspective.

  5. I sent this over to a friend and she wrote:

    I see how paying a final visit to his father, brother, sister and mother is guy 2’s final chance for finding the missing love in his family. I get that. But to cause himself so much hurt in the last days of his life would make death more pa…inful, unnecessarily so.

    “As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.”
    -Leonardo Da Vinci

    I sometimes have wondered at how I would deal with being terminally ill. Regardless of how my relationships with family stands, if I should ever find myself with only a few days of life ahead of me my hope is that I will LIVE. I wish the same for my family. I like to think that the people I love will spend the last of their life LIVING, then dying happy.

    I wrote back:

    I disagree.

    When you look at the alternative, it’s going on rollercoasters, eating exotic food, and random stuff, but with who? It might be your friends that you think are great and everything, it might be alone, and it might be with your somewhat friends. That’s great. You could cram as much new and impossible things in a few weeks, and that seems like fun.

    However, when you put your priorities straight, the first thing on that list should be family, no matter how we as people think they’re not perfect. It’s not exactly about having fun, it’s about saying goodbye. You have your whole life to ride rollercoasters and eat food, why would you want to do more of that when you have a week to live.

  6. I think that people too easily say, “Accept your family because you’re family.” The truth is, some families are truly toxic. Some parents are selfish and some siblings are physically or verbally abusive. I’ve seen too many kids in abusive foster care homes or with junky/criminal parents to tell them that they should put family first. In these cases, many people make new, non-biological families out of their groups of friends.

    You write that you’d have nobody to spend your last days with if you don’t visit your family, but I think if you’ve lived a life where you have absolutely nobody positive to contact in your dying days, you’re probably not going to find much peace no matter who you see. Instead, your time might be better spent making new friends in those final days, seeing new sights, and trying one last adventure.

    • True, I see your point. Yes, everyone deserves a string of happiness especially if they’ve never attempted to reach it at some point of their life. However, if you’re going to die in a week or so, even if you’re family is toxic, they’re not going to be the ones that kill you, or ruin your life. You’re going to die. Nothing’s going to change that.

      Someone could make friends with the random person on the bus in hopes to fulfill as much possible fun as they can. But they should’ve been doing that long time ago, there’s nothing stopping anyone at the moment. If you have friends that you’ve hung out with day in and day out, you should give a chance to your family. If you don’t have friends, you should give that chance to your family. If you want to go out alone, do it. But I get the feeling, that if you do that, you’re going constantly think about dying, and most likely die alone.

      • I guess I just get wary of “biological family is king” as a mantra. There are extreme cases where I think family should actually be shunned – cases of physical abuse, rape/incest, and severe emotional abuse or neglect. You probably won’t feel fulfilled if you visit somebody who abused you and that time is better spent saying goodbye to the people that really supported you, that formed a real “family” whether it was biological or not.

        That said, I agree that family is still family whether they’re perfect or not. I guess I’m just talking about those extreme cases where a biological family has been literally harmful to you.

      • Family is still family.

        I’m not saying you should move back into your parents house because they need something to yell at. Some families are indeed very very incredibly absolutely toxic. But in the occurrence that you should be dying, you should say goodbye. Or at lease make face time.

  7. This discussion is tough. And made me think about how families really do scar people.

    The reason that this situation can work is because, in many cases, a person returns to their family and realizes that the family wasn’t as bad as they’d previously believed and still cares for them. I’ve had times when I wanted to get as far as I could from my family but then have talked about my issues with them and hear them acknowledge and apologize for the way they raised me without making excuses or demanding I forgive them. I’ve more or less made up with my family. It’s far preferable to being estranged. But my family is not everyone’s family. Some people have families who continue to put them down and desire co-dependent relationships. In some situations, making up and accepting is superior to estrangement, but many situations are bad enough that estrangement is preferable.

    • Yeah acceptance is hard, especially because it’s a lot like giving up. It’s especially hard to just stop fighting sometimes. Accepting that you can’t change everything no matter how hard you try, is something that makes us feel less like we could ever be perfect.

      But I don’t write about being perfect. I write about being open.

  8. If I were a shady Hollywood exec, I’d say visit a friend in LA and pitch it. This has oscar written all over it.

    But I’m not. So I say: Gorgeous idea. It’s bittersweetly poetic and hits close to home to most people, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. My mother went and stayed with her mother for a month as she died of stomach cancer. Mom’s mother was an abusive, miserable woman. I never understood why Mom went and supported her throughout her last days until I was a lot older.

    This post reminded me a little of that.

    • wow Jas, that’s pretty compelling. I feel that your mom did the right thing though. Your grandma really only has so many people in the world.

      I don’t know about Hollywood, but that’d be great if they wanted to pick up one of my stories.

  9. Why thank you for that wonderful synopsis. I am one of those people who has a hard time with sparing a few hours of my life to sit in one place and watch a movie.. this film was on my to-do list though, but not anymore!

    Even though the story is absolutely touching (that is of course according to your synopsis, since I have never seen the movie), I am not entirely sure how to feel about it. I think sometimes when people treat you that bad, regardless of whether or not they’re family, it’s OK to just completely let go of them. Just my $0.02.

    Anywho, fabulous post AND have a happy turkey day! 🙂

  10. Blonde moment- just realized this is not a synopsis of the actual movie, it’s YOUR idea for a more realistic bucket list type concept.

    I like it- you should go for it! Would be a great screenplay or book.

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  13. how are you I was fortunate to find your subject in digg
    your topic is superb
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    • This is a wordpress theme. Twentyten I think. A lot of people have it. It’s just like any other ole theme. It’s pretty badass. I just recently changed it though to something more basic.

      That’s crazy that you find me on digg, I must’ve posted this so long ago.

  14. Ernest Hemingway~ Theres absolutely nothing noble in being superior for your fellow men. Accurate the aristocracy is being superior to your former self.

  15. Like a Beginner, I’m usually searching on the web for articles or blog posts that can assist me. Thank you

  16. Bertrand Russell~ Man wants for his happiness not only the satisfaction of this or that but hope and enterprise and change.

  17. thanks, never heard of Bertrand. Maybe I should wiki him.

  18. Thanks for the comments guys! It’s really awesome to see that people are visiting my blog from every direction!

  19. Pingback: Stop Doing What Makes You Great | THE TITAN PROJECT

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