Posted by: Kathy White | July 19, 2010

Death Comes Too Early …

While I was away on my trip, I had a close family friend die at the age of 55. I’m only 12 years behind this milestone and it made me stop and think about my own mortality and the priorities I have in my life. Fifty-five is way too young. But it always begs the question in my mind: What if you knew? What if somebody told me today that my ticket gets punched when I’m 55? How would that change things? Am I living my life as I would if I knew that as a fact? Would I want to know?

Of course the bucket list was made famous by Jack and Morgan. And I don’t like to think in terms of death. But how would it change me to know I just don’t have as much time as I might imagine? Well, here’s my thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Travel. More. I’d work as little as possible and travel as much as possible to every known corner of the world. I’m a lot more conservative with time traveling vs. making money now — although to some of you I’m never home and always traveling so I guess it’s just perspective.
  • See my parents more. I should do this anyway. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have them either. This one I just need to work on period.
  • Make sure those who are important to me know it — I try to do this anyway, but we all fall in to the habit of taking those closest to us for granted. Bren, love you madly.
  • Get more dogs. I love them. We don’t have the time or space right now, but I think I’d make it a priority to move someplace with more room and I’d just get a lot more dogs.
  • Spend my money on things that make others (and me) happy. We worry so much about having enough to retire on and live off of when we’re old. Well, if I’m not gonna get old, who says we all jump on a plan to Cabo for a few days — on me?
  • Learn something new. Like really go back to school and learn something entirely new. My best friend did this. Another friend of mine became a lawyer and moved to Washington D.C. at 50. Never too late to just take a new path. I’d spend  more time figuring out that path and following it to see where it takes me.
  • Juggle. Seriously learn to juggle — and do it well.
  • Play the piano more and truly learn how to play guitar. These are on my current list of things to do but I never seem to make the time. I can’t do piano right now but I’m thinking this break may be my excuse for the guitar part!
  • Take a week-long cooking class — wait, what am I thinking, take a month-long or six-month long class —  at some great place in Italy or France. I love to cook and to immerse yourself in somebody else’s culture and cooking would be awesome.

I put this down for awhile and came back and my list seems boring. But I realized I’d left a big one off. Don’t know why. Nothing is too big, right, if you’re just putting it down on paper?

  • Learn to fly. Get my pilots license and own a part of a plane out of Oakland that I could take any time I want. I’d fly friends to Half Moon Bay for lunch. Take weekend trips up to Napa or Healdsburg for wine tasting. Fly to Vegas and don’t tell a soul what you did. Just fly.

What would you do or not do? Do you feel like you already live your life to the fullest and work hard to fulfill your dreams now? Would you want to know 12 years, or whatever, out that your date with death is coming?

My friend Brenda and her husband always meant to travel but they hadn’t done it yet. She didn’t live to see her daughter get married — happening in 2 weeks. Her life, like so many of us, was still out in front of her. She was a fantastic person, great friend, and I will miss her.

This is dedicated to Brenda Cook (1955-2010).


  1. Came close. I realized that not much changed except the fact that I don’t have time for fools…and will tell them so at the drop of a hat.

  2. So…when do we leave for Cabo?

  3. I tried the juggling thing for about a week. Didn’t work out for me…but I still try! Guess I didn’t get the juggling gene.

  4. I think my life is the reflection of my living each day to the fulliest. I’ve been married three times and still can’t figure it out. Raised my three sons while getting by as a state employee (do NOT compare me to the state employees of today!). Retiring so I can take care of my mom with the help of my brother…he lets me & mom live with him. While others were saving for trips, cars, and retirement; I’ve been rolling with the punches. I learned early in life those we love are gone too soon. I can’t control much so I’ve learned to control my outlook on life; live, love, forgive. Just don’t tell me when I’m going to DIE!

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