I have learned not to ignore my premonitions. I have also learned that they often play out in unexpected ways. A feeling of impending doom continued for months a decade ago, culminating finally with the end of my corporate life. Later, during a period of family stress, I experienced several sudden bouts of inexplicable sadness, only to discover days later that the hours of sorrow corresponded with significant events in the life of my teenage son.
This past winter, I began to sense my approaching death. Sounds morbid, I know. And in the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that morbidity certainly runs in the family a bit. Still, this felt different than the impending doom of a decade earlier, more a peaceful anticipation of homecoming than a sense of fear or even of escape. While the premonition eventually subsided without any "now I get it" event, it gave me plenty of leisure and motivation to ponder my own "what I want to do before I kick the bucket" list.
I started a bucket list once, years ago, when the movie of the same name came out. The notepad has since wandered away, but you can fill in the blanks with the usual: ride in a hot air balloon, travel to Scotland, become fluent in Spanish (not so helpful in Scotland, of course, but still on the list), and so forth. All good things. And yet, oddly enough, when actually faced with the concept of my own early demise, I felt no regret for travels not taken or words left unspoken. Instead, I drank in quiet moments with my husband and children. I exercised, read, pondered my relationship with God, tried to listen more attentively to those promptings to love and serve. Mostly, I simply lived my life. I worried some about leaving family behind, hoped we had built enough good memories to last. I wondered vaguely if I would prove strong enough to handle the actual dying part with grace.
Obviously, I remain among the living, and I expect to revise my "bucket list" multiple times in the coming decades. The onset of middle age simply set me feeling mortal, I suppose. At the same time, it also gave me an opportunity to stand on the hilltop with a glorious view, both of the wonders behind and around me and the possibilities ahead. Life is good.