This year I am writing my start to fall message to you from the deck of my father-in-law’s house in northeastern Colorado. It is a little chilly this morning, with just a hint of smoke in the air.
It would be perfect if the smoke wasn’t coming from the wildfires about 80 miles to the west of us… and for the fact that I am here to help my husband as he battles brain cancer.
I cannot begin to tell you how much your love and support has meant to both of us in the last 72 days. The community has wrapped their arms around all of us and cemented our feeling of having found our forever home living in Thomas County, Kansas. You couldn’t drag me out of Colby now if you tried.
One thing that is breaking my heart though, is seeing how many friends and family are struggling with Covid. Two of my kids, Quinn and Ellie and I have fought it and won, but we have lost some of our most dear community members to the pandemic.
One that stands out to me right now is Kenton Krehbiel.
Kenton was the first person to welcome me to the Chamber world nearly five years ago. He popped his head in the door on my first morning, introduced himself, welcomed me and asked a bit about myself. It was the first of many visits with this charming man and his wife who brought with them boundless energy and a willingness to do anything they could to help Colby and Thomas County.
The Chamber office is going to be so different without Kenton. I am going to miss his regular visits. He often popped in at the first of the month when he was helping with Genesis just to say hi and grab his copy of the newsletter hot off the press.
Sometimes he would stop by to invite one of us to speak at Rotary… other times it was to pick up fliers to Pickin’ on the Plains or to sign up to help out with Santa City. Some days he was just in the neighborhood and stopped in to see what we were up to and what they could volunteer for. He was at every Business After Five, most ribbon cuttings, every Chamber luncheon and banquet… he was a Chamber Champion in the truest sense of the word… doing what he could to help Colby grow and thrive. He truly cared about this community and the people who lived here.
But that isn’t the only reason I am going to miss him. He was a big part of my every day. When the work day was done, he wasn’t done. I often ran into him at ballgames, the grocery store, church and fundraising events… and everytime, he and Sheila smiled, said hi and had a kind word to encourage me. Sometimes I could even get in a hug. He was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of friend and I am going to miss him dearly.
For me, what it comes down to is this… take the time right now, my friends. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. It could be Covid, or a cancer diagnosis… or a farming accident. We have no idea from one day to the next what life will throw at us.
Grab life with both hands and enjoy it. Let others know you appreciate them. Don’t let a moment go by without savoring it… even if it is in 2020, because at some point 2020 will be over… and I am bound and determined to not go into (a hopefully better) 2021 with any regrets.