A special kind of bucket list

A special kind of bucket list


By Randee Bergen


For the first time ever, spring break was two weeks long, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Come August, my oldest, Addy, is off to college and my youngest, Amy, will be leaving for her year abroad in France. To take advantage of this first, and perhaps last, two weeks that the three of us have off together, we planned Addy’s Epic Senior Year Road Trip -12 days through Utah, Arizona, out to the Pacific, up to the Sequoias, Death Valley, Vegas and Bryce Canyon in Utah.

I spent six entire days planning this 12-day road trip. I did the majority of the work back in December when I had some time off work – pouring over maps, Googling and reading about possible cool places that we absolutely had to see, determining which campgrounds along our route would be open in March and whether it’d be warm enough to sleep in the tent at which elevations.

A couple of nights before leaving, Addy said to me, “Mom, I’m writing a bucket list for our trip.”

“Well, don’t get too carried away,” I said, thinking of the typical bucket list, a list of places to see and experience, “because the trip is pretty much planned out.”

“Oh, Mom,” she replied, waving her hand in front of my face, “I’m not talking about that kind of bucket list.”

The next day, while I was at work and she was at school, trying desperately to stick it out and finish her classes so that she can graduate, she texted me this.


1. fall in love with (at least) something: person, place, sunset, food
2. be completely present
3. try something new/out of the comfort zone every day
4. do nice things with/for my family
5. be patient with my family
6. LAUGH – all the time and make others laugh
7. be a kid
8. conversate with strangers
9. photograph Amy
10. photograph my mom
11. photograph everything
12. write
13. get lost


As always, I was blown away with her unconventional way of thinking. I’m sure she had written it during class and that she wasn’t paying attention and that she wasn’t concerned with her grades, which she needed to be. But at this moment, it didn’t matter. At this moment, she was sharing something so beautiful, something that made me choke up and have to hold back the tears threatening to spill from my lower lids.

At the end of my work day, Friday, the last day of teaching before a two-week long respite from schedules and planning and worrying about whether I could get all of my students proficient in all subjects before the end of the school year, I grabbed my phone (with the texted bucket list) and went to look for my BFF colleagues, the ones I would share something like this with, the ones who know my daughter, the ones who understand what a free spirit she is and would appreciate what she had written.

Together we stood there, in my classroom, on a Friday after school, the Friday before Spring Break, while I read her bucket list aloud. And together we cried.

We cried for everything each of us has been through, all the trials and tribulations our children and families have had, what we know to be true and important, the bare basics of what we hope for for our children, that they learn to love and appreciate the people and moments in their lives.

I had errands to run that day after school, things I needed to get before we left on our trip. But I stopped at home first, to find Addy and tell her what a beautiful soul she was, inside and out.

“Mom, why are you saying this?” She looked at me, dumbfounded.

“Your bucket list, Addy. It was incredible. It made me cry. I shared it with my teacher friends and we were all standing around bawling.”

“Bucket list? Oh. Yeah.”

I didn’t sense that she had forgotten about it, necessarily, just that it was ordinary to her, nothing special. Just her typical thinking. And it was.

I reviewed each item, separately, and thought about them.

Yep, yep, yep, each one was something that I do, almost daily. Maybe they weren’t so extraordinary. But they did need to be written down. To be shared. And to be consciously thought about – not only on our trip, but every day, always.

Thank you, Addy.

Randee Bergen is a single mother of two teenagers and an elementary school teacher. Read her every other Friday on Healthy Mesa County.


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