It is Sunday and since I will be in the mountains for the next few days I am writing my post early.
I want to tell you about yesterday – Saturday. It was a day that comprised everything.
The morning was openhearted joy as my friend Nancy and I welcomed the Japanese contingent to Calgary. Smiling faces, arms waving, hugs and tears of joy. Even their mountain guide, Katsu Goto, of Waputik Canada, was equally congenial and enthusiastic. Happiness!
Some members belong to a bereavement group called Blue Skies. And we were all aware that they landed in Calgary under brilliant blue skies. Seemed like a lucky omen for their days ahead.
After waving good bye at noon as they boarded their bus for Lake Louise, our next stop for the afternoon was Eden Brook.
Here we joined with hundreds of others to celebrate the life of a dear friend.
Open hearted sorrow was evident on all of our faces, arms kept busy with comforting embraces, and tears of sorrow and of loss flowed silently.
Such a contrast. And yet…
The day represented in vivid detail the continuum of life and death. Lives fully lived.
The remarkable thing was that the afternoon went way beyond being sad. We were all awestruck as we listened to the stories of Kevin’s life and learned more about this man who so many loved. What was most powerful was how he lived, worked, played, gave of himself, and how he loved. Everyone who spoke told stories of how Kevin overcame obstacles, never gave up and laughed with delight through it all.
Blind as a teenager he lived boldly and refused to see himself as a victim. Kevin stories, came one after another, of learning to drive (in a field), playing hockey, skiing, waterskiing, climbing mountains, starting a recording studio, changing careers, and riding a tandem bike from Calgary Alberta to San Jose California to support cancer patients. Kevin built houses, fished, was a devoted father, grandfather and husband. Nothing was too much trouble. On top of that he was a Paralympian. And he raised hundreds of thousand of dollars for charity.
Kevin was adored by his family and friends, and was an inspiration to everyone who knew him. His family was his biggest love and most important achievement.
It is clear that the way to honour Kevin’s beautiful and loving life is through our actions. Not replicating his but not holding ourselves back from learning, trying new things, loving, laughing, and taking care of each other. Living with outstretched arms.
What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela
Note 1:) Yesterday I was inspired by 12 Japanese who have been impacted by cancer and who are in their 60’s and 70’s. Putting in the effort to train, execute, travel to another country to climb mountains, and demonstrate what we can do to live actively, fully, and joyfully with illness and while ageing.
Note 2:) Yesterday I was equally inspired by a dear friend whose life abruptly ended. He too lived boldly and fully, overcoming many obstacles. Never giving up. Giving more than he took. Waking up every single morning and declaring: It’s a great day to be alive. A deep bow, to Kevin. And sincere condolences to his family.