A daily bucket list

First (but not by any means foremost), I want you all to know your efforts on Facebook have paid off. Your tacky, sappy, super-saturated-sentimental posters about making the most of life have made me think.

Not just recently, either. They’ve always hit me pretty hard.

Now, I’ll admit. Beneath this rough, football-loving and beard-sporting exterior that is the epitome of sheer masculinity, I am far more sensitive than most of the men I know. I can spend all night acting stern, authoritative and relatively dominant, but turn on “Jersey Girl” or the end of any “Taken” sequel and I’m going to bed with tears in my eyes.

So it’s not all that surprising to those who know me best that reading some sappy quote written over a picture of a father holding his young daughter’s hand will trigger some emotion … especially the posters that talk about time slipping away.

BECAUSE IT IS.

I’ve been aware of this for years now. I realized not long after high school that someday I’m actually going to die. It may sound crazy, but yes … I spent roughly the first 20 years of my life believing I would live forever, no matter what I did or how little thought I gave to it. Oddly enough, though, I’m okay with that. I’m also content knowing I may die without ever fulfilling my bucket list because I don’t have one.

MY LIFE IS NOT about me anymore. I’m not judging those who’ve posted lists of things they want to do by their 30th birthday or contemplated deeply on their blogs about the things they want to do before they die. God bless every person who goes skydiving, rock climbing or mountain goat wrestling as soon as they can because “tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.”

I’m not one of them.

The thing that makes me realize the clock is ticking and makes me wish it would stop and makes me want to cherish moments and experiences is my daughter. Tonight she asked after finishing her shower if she could paint her nails. I told her she could, then asked if she needed help. Of course she didn’t … she hasn’t needed help with that since she was 7.

Twenty minutes later – about 30 minutes later than I wanted her to be in bed – I told her she needed to wrap it up. Disappointed, she asked if she could have a few more minutes to finish two fingers that had been smudged. I told her I was sorry, but she needed to deal with the way they were and get to bed, as she needed sleep more than she needed perfect nails to have a good day in school.

A few minutes later, I met her in her bedroom and looked at her nails. They were a monstrosity. I saw why it took her 20 minutes to paint them – she’d attempted to stripe two different colors but failed miserably. It looked like each fingernail had a puddle of glittery mud she’d sealed with clear coat.

“Kalista, your nails look beautiful,” I told her. “I don’t see what you’re worried about.

“But next time, I can help you.”

KALISTA’S GOT THIS THING where she believes there’s no way I can do a good job painting her nails, doing her hair or choosing her clothes. For the most part, she’s correct when it comes to the last two. Ray Charles could do both of those things better with one hand tied behind his back. But I can paint fingernails like a 12-fingered Chinese woman. I’ve been good at that since her nails were half the width of the nail polish brush.

But I roll with it. Really, I’m okay with her not wanting because she doesn’t think she needs my help with the things she used to rely on me to do. I’m pretty much used to it.

That does not mean, however, these instances don’t trigger the same type of feeling I get looking at those Facebook posters or watching a father-daughter movie. Time really is slipping. My life will be over long before I die – that’s probably my worst fear, which is completely inevitable.

So each day becomes a bucket list for me. But the items on the list aren’t too complex or dramatic. They are simple things, like painting my daughter’s nails when she gives me the chance or helping her snap her pesky bike helmet up …

… because, quite frankly …

I may never again get the chance.

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