“It’s been eight months since your father died,” I tell my daughter over the phone.
“I know,” she says quietly. “How are you holding up?”
“I’m fine,” I reply.
“Don’t kid me,” she chastises. “Why don’t you come out and visit. Seattle is beautiful this time of year.”
“It seems like I just got home,” I say as I look at my yellow fur slippers and begin to pace the living room.
“You’ve been there almost two months,” my daughter says.
“I know, Julie. I think I need to…” I hesitate.
“Okay. If you won’t come here, I’m coming there,” she says with a worried tone.
“I’m serious. I’ll be there tomorrow,” she says.
“I don’t need you to come. You’ve got a husband and kids.” I take a deep breath and exhale audibly. “I already know what I’m going to do.”
“What do you mean, going to do?” she raises her voice.
I chuckle as I imagine the expression on her face that matches the sound of her voice. Absolute terror.
“Why are you laughing?” she asks. “You haven’t done anything already, have you?”
“No, honey. I’m laughing because I can’t believe that you would think that I’m not strong enough to continue without your father. He was a wonderful man, but he and I talked about all this during his radiation treatments.” I continue in a soothing tone, “I need to figure out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. I was married to your father for thirty-five years. The reason we got married was because we found out I was pregnant. Well, that’s not the only reason. We were going to get married anyway, but I was only fifteen at the time. I never really had a chance to find out who I was.”
“I didn’t know that it was so bad for you,” my daughter says.
“It wasn’t bad, just different from what either of us expected. Now, for the first time I don’t have anyone to be responsible for,” I say with a small shrug. “It feels alien to me.”
“Okay,” she says with apprehension.
“Do you know what a bucket list is?” I ask.
“A bucket list? Please don’t tell me that you’re going to start bungee jumping or sky diving!” she exclaims.
“What’s wrong with a little adventure,” I tease.
“Don’t worry, Julie. I’m not going to do anything that dangerous,” I assure. “You remember when you were a kid and I would come up with all those stories of the woman who would have these great adventures? Traveling. Meeting people from other countries.”
“Yeah?” she asks with suspicion.
“I wrote all those stories down and I think I need to be the one to fulfill them,” I state.
“What do you mean? Alone?” she asks.
“I don’t know Mom. The world is tough. You said it yourself, you haven’t really been in it alone,” she says.
“I know,” I respond with a smile. “I’ll be fine.”
“You sound really happy about this,” she remarks.
“I am. I mean, it was what your father and I had planned to do when he retired. He made me promise that I’d do all the things we both wanted to do. These last two months, I’ve finally been…” I chuckle with excitement, “getting ready to live.”