Historically I have been a procrastinator. The phrases “one of these days” and “I’ll get to that tomorrow” used to be part of my everyday vocabulary. I often focused on the “urgent” need of the day instead of what was important. I had a very sad wake-up call that put things in perspective. Exactly two years ago today, I received news that my friend, Chris Roberts, passed away after a battle with colon cancer. I will never forget that moment. I had been taking a break scrolling through my Facebook feed when many of my classmates were posting photos indicating how great of a guy Chris was and that he would be sorely missed. I immediately went to Chris’ profile to see the countless condolence posts.
Chris was one of my classmates in graduate school. After graduation, we went our separate ways. In February 2017, Chris posted a New York Times article where he had been interviewed about the increase in colorectal cancer diagnosis in young people. I believe I may have sent off a quick note and said to myself “I should give Chris a call”, but life got busy (as it always will) and I never did. When I was scheduled to be in New York, I thought about reaching out, but it was a hectic trip and I figured I would reach out “next time.” That next time never came. When I reached out to his fiancé to express my condolences, she shared that Chris had spoken highly of me and my love of Disney. It was comforting for me to know that Chris regarded me as highly as I had regarded him.
Maya Angelou is attributed with saying “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” That is how I remember Chris. I remember I always felt a calming presence and very supported whenever I interacted with him. In fact, one of my favorite memories was an evening on our academic trip to Brazil. Chris and I had dinner with two of our classmates and our professor overlooking the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. I can’t remember what we talked about; I just remember a beautiful evening with great company.
One of my few regrets was not reaching out to my friend. As part of my annual Twelve Days of Giving, I always make a donation to the Colon Club, the organization where Chris helped raise awareness, in his memory.
I share this story in the hopes that you will live each day fully and not plan for “someday.” All we have is today. At a conference I heard it summarized best: “when you have an idea either act on it immediately or put it on the calendar otherwise it will just be a fleeting idea.” Personally, I am still a work in progress. I still see residuals of old procrastination habits, but my planner helps to keep me on track. I also recently returned to taking the time to write handwritten notes and making phone calls. When a friend says to me “we should get together one of these days”, my reply is always, I can’t put “one of these days on my calendar”.