by Amy Weitzel
I made potato salad today. It’s been awhile since I made potato salad. I get a lot of compliments on it and I have a secret ingredient that I put in it. People have asked for the recipe, and honestly I don’t have one, but I know that it’s this one single ingredient that makes it taste a little different from others.
I’m making it because my friend Chris loves it.
Or should I say loved it?
Chris died last week.
Chris turned 49 on Thursday and he died Friday of a heart attack.
I hate that now when I talk about this man, this friend of mine, I have this strange mixture of past and present tense in my vernacular, “Chris is the nicest man I ever met,” will come out of my mouth followed up with, “Chris was a member of the gym.” It’s like my brain can’t quite comprehend the fact that he was a living, breathing man and now he’s not.
Death is funny that way.
What isn’t funny is that the world was robbed of a man who had a heart of gold. As cliché as that may sound, Chris was someone who never said an unkind word about another human. He was the kind of person who would do anything for anyone at any time. This is where my potato salad comes in.
Several weeks ago, he was going to come help me replace the battery in my camper. His wife had mentioned that he loved my potato salad so I was going to make him some and bring it to him in exchange for his help. He would have helped with the battery for free but I wanted to do something for Chris because he was always doing something kind for others.
But I was busy … at least that’s what I kept telling myself.
Now I’ve run out of time because Chris is no longer here to enjoy my potato salad and its secret ingredient.
I find I say that often,” I don’t have a lot of time.” But, when I really take a look at my schedule, I spend a lot of time on things that aren’t truly important to me.
The past few months have been a time of extreme personal growth for me and this past week has enhanced that growth. I’ve taken a long, hard look at how I’ve been spending my time and if those things truly support my goals and honor my priorities.
I don’t like the answer.
I think a lot of people would probably say the same. Sadly, I think it comes down to two things: 1) We haven’t taken the time to really define what is truly important to us and 2) We don’t understand the value of time.
First, when was the last time you sat down and really examined what is important in your life? Your closest of friends, family, hobbies, values, goals, etc.? What’s important in life and where do you truly want to invest your time? I say invest because time is a precious commodity.
Our time is a gift – when we give it, we can never get it back. Chris gave of his time so selflessly to people who were important to him. If he had a chance to look back, I doubt he’d regret the time he spent giving to others. I intend to live my life with more intention because of his influence.
If we were to draw ourselves in the center of a piece of paper with a circle around us, who and what would be in that first circle? Then if there was a circle on the outside of that, who and what would be in that second circle? The third? The fourth? If we live our lives based on this representation, it would truly make saying “no” and focusing our time efforts much easier. I don’t think I would have been too busy to make my friend Chris some potato salad.
Second, we as humans don’t understand the value of time. We take for granted that we will live long lives. If we understood how truly fragile and fleeting life would be, I doubt we would say as many unkind words. Fortunately, Chris’ final words to his beloved wife as he walked out the door were those of love.
Thinking about Chris and his too short time on this Earth makes me think that time is the secret ingredient to life. Giving your time to a cause or another person is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
Tonight I take my potato salad to share with Chris’ friends and family as we celebrate his life – a life well lived and much loved.
In memory of Chris Root (July 12, 1969 – July 13, 2018)