It was nearing the end of 2019 and it is was time to make those dreaded New Year's resolutions. After a morning of wracking her brain Emma sat down at her dining room table, opened her journal, picked up her pen.
"Not this year!" she states out loud. This year I will make a bucket list to work towards. Not those silly - I'm going to loose 10 kilos by end of February or I'm going to write a thousand words every day for my book or even the silliest one I made a few years ago, I am going to run a marathon this year. This was silently to herself, she always felt silly talking out loud when she was by herself. Emma was a reserved and level headed person.
I will make my bucket list and there will be no pressure to complete anything in a specified time or sequence. That's is by far a better idea.
It had been a good year at the bookstore and it had been an excellent decision to introduce the internet café section. It was like having the best of both worlds. The old and the new combined. Every now and then Emma would slip into the internet café section and get onto the internet. A girl has to keep up with the times and stay computer literate she would say to herself.
It was earlier in December when she had found a site where exploring the canals in the Netherlands in your own boat with you being the captain was possible. She had imagined her and her sister lazing on the boat and enjoying the scenery. Not possible she had then thought but as she sat at her dining room table she made the first entry on her bucket list. Why not, I had a good year financially and I now have a good manager to step in when I am not there. I can break away at times.
1. Barging in Netherlands. What an adventure that would be.
Emma loved reading and even though the internet café was part of her business she never read a book on the computer. She loved the feel and the smell of a book. She would feel part of the story as she turned the pages and held the book as she curled up on the coach. This is a must for my bucket list.
2. Visiting the Shanghai Library. I would be in my element there.
3. Ride a horse on a beach. While I'm in an adventurous mood, why not.
4. Take a train ride round Lake Balaton in Hungary. I have heard it is a site to behold.
Emma put her pencil down. No need to rush this, she felt good about making this decision.
In February, Emma and her sister Liz found themselves warming their ice cold hands on cups of hot chocolate. They were in
Keszthely, Hungary and there was Lake Balaton in front of them. Emma was not disappointed. It had been three or four years now that the lake had not frozen over and the wind causing small waves to break on the shore filled Emma with joy. What a good idea that bucket list was, she thought as she bit into her Langos - savouring the cheese. This is like a little bit of heaven.
For the next ten days the sisters made their way round Lake Balaton using the railway system. They would never have known about the caves in Tapolca or the family wineries in the area had they not taken this trip. Up the North Shore they stopped at Balatonfüred the capital of the north coast and ate pizza where the owner joined them at their table and helped them with the menu. The meal ended with the traditional Palinka from that region. On the South Shore they visited Siófok where the sailing boats were in drydock for the winter and it was here they first heard the news that the virus first detected in Wuhan was spreading to other countries.
In March the cold was not as biting anymore and the sisters visited the thermal lake in Hévíz. After lazing in the sulphur pools then relaxing on the sunbeds they ended up chatting to two varsity students from Budapest who informed them that the university was shut because of the threat of a pandemic and in two more days the border between Hungary and Austria will be closed.
A panic set in and Emma, as the older sister, started to make decisions.
"Get your laptop out Liz. It's time to go home!"
"We have another two weeks here Emma. This trip has just been perfect. How can you make such a split decision on the news that two students gave. For all we know that's the story they are going to tell their parents when they get home. I'd say they were bunking."
"Liz, it's not a time to be frivolous. Let's get back home."
By the end of the week, the sisters flew back into South Africa. A disappointed Liz and an apprehensive Emma. By the end of the next week South Africa was in full lockdown. The virous was now a 'World Pandemic'.
A sad Emma sat holding Liz's hand. Her mask made breathing difficult but the Ward Matron kept an eagle eye on all that visited. How her world had been turned upside down within an instant. Her book store was not the happy place she remembered and the internet café was rarely visited now. She no longer visited her favourite coffee shop regularly. Emma could not get used to not being generous with hugs and seeing her family and friends in masks. It was all too surreal.
Liz was out of the intensive care unit but she was still very weak. The Covid virus she had contracted had nearly taken her life and she was too weak to speak to Emma.
"I'll visit tomorrow again Liz. Hang in there. You will get better." She kissed Liz's forehead and straightened her sheet.
A year had passed since Emma had sat at her dining room table and decided to opt for a Bucket List and not a list of New Year's resolutions. She found herself opening her journal to the Bucket List. Throughout the year she had added to her Bucket List but as
she read through the list, she saw her priorities had changed during the lockdown months.
It was no longer that important to visit the Shanghai Library or go barging in the Netherlands. She would not take any items off her list because it is important to always have a goal but she had a bucket list item in mind that she had to add that night.
In the quiet of her dining room she picked up her pen.
11. Watch the sun set on the ocean in Cape Town with my sister at my side.