Before Stanley’s condition started to go downhill, he compiled a bucket list with me about all the things he wanted to do before he died. Unfortunately, his cancer progressed faster than we expected, and within months he lost his mobility thereby restricting him from doing a lot of the items on his list. We were not able to complete all the items on his list but we were able to check off one of the most important ones, which is…going to Japan!
Stanley loved Japan. He loved the culture, the art, the gaming industry, the people, and just everything about Japan. In high school, he took a Japanese class just so that he could fully understand the Nintendo/Sega games he was playing (while most of us would just press buttons until the game somehow started). Other than a couple of trips we took to Japan when we were kids, Stanley never had the chance to go back ever since.
When we decided to go to Japan, Stanley had already developed minor depression, loss of appetite, and he was not himself. He lost majority of his mobility since the cancer ate away his bone. He was not able to walk by himself anymore. He started needing the assistance of a walking cane, and eventually he needed a wheel chair to get around. Stanley resented that. We were still able to fly him to Japan, and we took about a week in Japan doing everything he has ever dreamed of doing. We took sticky pics, we went to toy stores hunting down Dragonball-Z toys, and we went to eat all his favorite Japanese eateries like sushi, ramen, and MOS burger. Despite all the trouble getting Stanley to Japan, those seven days were one of the happiest times I have ever seen Stanley had. Also, just being in Japan with him, relaxing with him in Japan for a week was one of the happiest times our whole family has ever had as well. Those seven days were deeply engraved in my memory. In addition, Japan really brought back Stanley’s spirits and hope. The trip reset his mood and he was able to go back to the states ready for another round of treatment. I still remember how he was completely transformed after being in Japan. He was willing to stand for 2-3 minutes just to eat sushi (at that point Stanley could barely stand), and he wanted to actively go to all these places to explore. It was such an amazing time. I cannot help but wonder…what if we did this earlier, way before Stanley was diagnosed with cancer. What if we made the effort to spend time together as a family and paid more attention to each other instead of our jobs, academics etc. We probably would not have had that much regret about Stanley’s incomplete list, and we would have spent a lot more quality time with Stanley as a family…
Even though we were not able to complete his bucket list, we tried our best doing most of the things on his list that his body could physically handle, given the circumstances. When Stanley passed away, I knew that he felt regret for all the unfinished things that were left on his list, and I felt partly responsible for the incomplete list. It was disheartening to see that he was not able to complete it, so I decided that I owe it to him to complete his list. I also realized that I have a bucket list too, but I just never thought much of it, or to execute it. One of the things Stanley told me before he passed away was to take action and do what I wanted to do. “Never wait” he says. So after his death, I set off my journey to complete both me and Stanley’s bucket lists. I started off first by going to Africa to volunteer since I have dreamt of doing so since I was a kid. During my time there I took the initiative to do another item off Stanley’s list – bungee jumping.
For those of you that know me, you know that I suffer from severe vertigo. I am frightened to death to ride roller coasters and I do not like being too high up. I get dizzy, drowsy and my legs weaken when I am too far off the ground. However, when I went to Africa, I decided to use my week off to go to Uganda and bungee jump into the Nile river for Stanley. It was probably a stupid decision, but it was very liberating. It was something that I wanted to do for him, and I promised I would jump with him when we were writing his list together. The jump probably lasted no more than 2 seconds but it was the longest 2 seconds of my life. The bungee jump can be seen here. You could tell that I was freaking out, screaming, yelling, and trying to get it over with. I am not sure if I would ever bungee jump again, but it felt great breaking through my comfort zone. I felt the presence of Stanley with me as I jumped, and he was probably laughing at me as he usually does for doing something ridiculous like this. In addition to bungee jumping, I also rafted the Nile just to check it off on my bucket list!
So why talk about bucket lists? It all goes back to love, family, and regret. If you have dreams, things you would like to do, places to travel, go forth and accomplish them now. Write it down, and make a point of executing it. Do not wait or think that you would have time in the future. Life is unpredictable and you never know what will happen. Prepare for the future but do not forget about the present, and what you have in front of you, especially your family. And yes, I am currently still in the progress of checking things off of both me and Stanley’s bucket lists. One thing that I do regret is not being able to accompany Stanley to do the things on his list, and have him complete my list with me. It is sad knowing that some of the items on his list were meant to be done with me, ultimately he ran out of time to do it with me and completing his list has become one of the items on my bucket list. I experienced it first hand that you don’t have all the time in the world, so make the effort to spend time with your family and complete your list. Don’t be scared to take risks and do what your heart desires. Travel somewhere, explore, and just live! Do it while you can, especially with the people you love. So what is on your list?