Absence makes the value of engaging worth savouring

By Darren Lum

I heard somewhere grief is about having love you can’t give anymore.
As I get older, the losses in my life have mounted, whether from time, circumstances or death. The difficult truth about life to accept is there are some people destined to be carried in the heart rather than to be seen to the sunset of one’s life.

The pandemic has affected us in ways we won’t know for years. There’s been the lost lives. The lost time between loved ones. The lost opportunity for connection. The lost civility – facilitated (I believe) in large part by social media platform algorithms that feed into hate. No one really wants to hear the sad stories we all have. Close friends will be there and attempt to console, but some sadness doesn’t have an answer. We all want to take the hurt away from those we care for and love. Sometimes all that we can do is sit with them and let them feel. The heartache. The deep-seeded pain that manifests itself while listening to a song, or see a scene from a movie when the heart strings are pulled, which are matched by the rising violins from a dramatic score. Loss is a part of the human experience. We may never be able to take away the sadness of loss. What we can do is embrace the time we have with loved ones. Those who are there for us even we believe they’re an annoyance. Everybody shows and appreciates affection and care differently.
I know everybody carries grief. I know I’m not alone. It was clear in interviewing people for their perspective on the late-Chester Howse, who loved Haliburton and put forth effort to various community causes and organizations to back up his affection. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a good thing to say about him. I have meant to write this editorial and the article, Chester’s legacy goes to the heart of those he met for some time, but I didn’t have the emotional capacity to do it until now.
This year I’ve learned about taking stock, being grateful for those seemingly insignificant interactions.

Several weeks ago, I was walking from the post office in Haliburton I ran into Chester Howse as he left his vehicle. At the time, I didn’t realize this brief interaction would be the last time I would see him alive. The specifics of our interaction aren’t important. It was the feeling I received, which was like a warm hug. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had seen him before that because of the pandemic. So, I was shocked when I learned about his death from a posted flyer of his funeral while standing at the Foodland in Haliburton. My mind immediately returned to the feeling he left me in front of the post office. An immense feeling of warmth. The way your face warms and your eyes go wide. It reminded me how fleeting life can be and how important it is to value those who are in front of you, showing they care by saying, hi or listening to know how you’re feeling and what you’ve been doing recently and not just hear for the sake of being polite.
I believe it’s important to see what you have and appreciate it. We may never know when what we hold dear is until it’s gone. Sometimes there aren’t second chances.
Sometimes all we have left are memories. However brief they may be.
Good, bad and everything in-between. Make the time, see the value in the moments we have with people so when we see our sunset we can smile for what was instead of cry for what never came to be.