07_23_2013_breast_cancer_funny_bucket_list_tuitionIf you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I have a short bucket list. If you haven’t followed this blog at all, shame on you, I mean… welcome.

1. Get my dream kitchen.
2. Publish a book.
3. Go to Maui for our 20th anniversary.
4. Fit into my Oprah dress.
5. Get a patio set and concrete poured in the back yard.

Number 1 and the second half of Number 5 seem to be the most elusive. I know what you’re thinking: “Even more than Number 4? We know how much Haagen-Dazs you eat.”

Yes, even more than Number 4. I’m not sure where that wretched Oprah dress is, but I’ve lost 20 pounds and probably fit into it by now. The only problem is (besides the fact the dress is a bit dog-ugly), Oprah is no longer on the air. Like the bumper sticker used to say on the Volkswagen Rabbit I owned as a teenager: “When my ship comes in, with my luck, I’ll be at the airport.”

Ken—the builder that we lined up to do the job—has two major projects before us. Rather than be impatient, Ken (my Ken, not the builder) and I have concentrated on budgeting and paying off as many bills as possible, tuition being one of the biggest.

In Chapter 5 of my book, I recounted the following story that took place while I was in the midst of chemotherapy:

“Maria, I wanted to call and let you know that my husband and I talked it over and we would like to pay for half of your school tuition.”
“I can’t let you do that.”
“Stop. You let me talk for once.”
I let her talk. It was easy, because I had a big lump in my throat.
“We know how important it is to you and Ken to send the kids to private school, and now that you have all these bills piling up, we want you not to have to worry about the tuition bill on top of everything else.”
“We’re talking ten grand here. That’s a lot of money.” I wanted to make sure there wasn’t some sort of misunderstanding. Maybe they didn’t know just how much tuition cost.
“We know that’s how much it is. We insist and want you to just have one part of your life taken care of so that you can get well.”
I had to hang up because I was crying so hard.
I felt guilty about waiting so long to get to the doctor. Seven months I waited. It was my fault we were suddenly in this financial strait. It was my fault I went and got sick.
Quilts. Gardening help from friends. Cards pouring in every day. Meals provided by others. Now, tuition. This was more than tender mercies. This was overwhelming.

Because of the graciousness of these friends (and others) all those years ago, I am happy to report that we were able to catch up and I am pictured here mailing our last tuition payment. Now, to save up for kitchen cabinets. And a new stove. And fridge….