Spiritual Non-Fiction posted October 25, 2012

This work has reached the exceptional level
Adapted from my blog

The Bucket List

by Janilou

Recently, I caught up with an old friend for lunch. It had been been eight years since we'd seen each other, but we've been friends for thirty-five years. Gaye lives in Australia with her husband. He also happens to be my ex-husband, but I don't hold that against her. Seriously, I really don't. Life is too short and full of unexpected surprises, like when my ex called one day about two years ago to say his wife (my friend) had cancer and wasn't expected to live more than five years. Any resentment I felt about their get-together after he and I had broken up, melted away with that sentence. 
So when they traveled to the states in June to see our grown children, I was thrilled to be able to catch up with my old friend for lunch. In the course of the meal, we talked about, among other things, our wishes and dreams for life -- our bucket lists. 
She spoke frankly about the things she knew she would never get to do in her life, as her days are likely to be short, unless a miracle occurs. Almost as an afterthought, she said, "I always wanted to visit Walt Disney World one day, but that's not going to happen." 
I just about choked on my soup. I said, "Well, you know, I'm going there with my youngest daughter next week. Why don't you come along?" She smiled as a wistful look flitted across her face and said, "I just couldn't afford it." 
There's no doubt it's expensive, and although I had our trip paid for, to add another person costs a lot -- about a thousand dollars for a week. I didn't have that much money to spare, but I had an idea. 
The next day, I went to see our local bank's loan officer and spilled out the story of my friend and her bucket-list wish. He shook his head sadly and said, "The board would never approve a loan for a personal reason like that." We live in a small town so our bank is a conservative small town bank, who lend you money like it's coming out of their own pockets. Seriously. 
I said, "Oh, okay, I understand. Well, thanks anyway." My banker said, "Like I said, the bank just wouldn't lend it to you. I'd have to lend it to you out of my own pocket." He smiled and said, "I'm willing to do that. I trust you to pay me back. I'll have the money in your account in half an hour. Oh, and I won't charge you any interest. Just promise you'll pay me back." 
I was stunned, but managed to thank him profusely, promised on my life to pay him every week until the loan was repaid in full, and ran out of the bank to call my friend and tell her the news. 
She and my ex were staying with my son, Dan, and daughter-in-law, Britany. Britany, who had also never been to Walt Disney World said, "Oh, I sure wish I could come, but I totally understand. You guys will have a wonderful time together."
I responded, "Oh, I so wish I could take you too." 
I hung up the phone and started talking to God. Oh, dear Lord, why can't I take her? There has to be a way, I mused as I thought about the hard life she had growing up. The next day, I received news of a tax refund that allowed me to invite my daughter-in-law along too. My twelve-year-old daughter was estactic when she found out our mother/daughter vacation just turned into a "girls' vacation." She loves her sister-in-law and my friend. 

It was an absolutely fabulous vacation. I will never forget the look on my friend, Gaye's face as she danced with Goofy, and exclaimed, "I met Mickey Mouse, Jan!" We even dined in Cinderella's castle one evening and met all of the Disney princesses. I posted a blog on Facebook about the amazing events that led to the four of us being able to take our magical girls' vacation, and soon received a message from Sue, another dear friend in Australia. 

Sue said she and her husband Rob had been talking about my blog, and felt God wanted them to contribute towards our girls' vacation. Several weeks after we returned from Florida, a check arrived in the mail for one thousand dollars. I wept. I had already begun paying back our banker, so I was able to completely repay him, and there was enough left over to purchase three photo books of our vacation -- one for Gaye, one for Britany and one for us. God is awesome. 

At the beginning of the photo book, I put this quote: 

"Will we be friends forever?" asked Piglet. "Even longer," said Pooh. (AA Milne) 

It occured to me how true those precious words are for those whose hope is in the One who loves us so much. He makes the improbable, and often, even the impossible come to pass. Oh, how He loves us. Recently He gave me the opportunity to spend time at the most magical place on earth, Walt Disney's Magic Kingdon, with my beloved friend. One day we will be together as friends forever in His Kingdom, and going there one day, well, that's at the very top of my bucket list.



Photo left to right, Gaye, Britany, Amber and Jan

I adapted this from a shorter blog I wrote the day I found out we would be able to take Gaye and Britany with us to Walt Disney World in June. I'm sure it needs a little more blending, and I will be back to do this later today, but wanted to get it posted! :-)

* Gaye died on January 12th, 2016
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