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Here in the heart of me

Those left behind after Jim Haberl's death gather together in the Tantalus Range to launch an elevated tribute to the multi-talented photojournalist, speaker and mountain guide.

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And we will miss Jim and it will hurt, but he must be allowed to be dead. Here’s to Jim and here’s to life."

Joe poured champagne and orange juice for everyone.

Pat thanked Joe for supporting me. Dad Haberl leaned on the table with both arms and in a low husky voice he said, "Thank you. Thank you to everyone who helped." Kevin’s eyes watered and his voice shook when he spoke. He said there were many times during the project when we hit what appeared to be dead ends but that something would always come up to clear the way and that these weren’t accidents. Captain Thingvold and Sergeant Pelletier spoke of what an honour it was to work with such a dedicated group. Liz expressed her appreciation for the friendships that have been formed on the committee as a result of this project.

Then there was another holding as people had been rubbed raw and nobody wanted to move or speak because the pain felt so near the surface. I invited people to begin their afternoon adventures. The Haberl brothers took the nieces and nephews to explore the rocky Dione ridge. Mom and Dad Haberl followed Alastair across the rocky rib to the nearby Red Tit shelter. Blair painted the outhouse and I took a nap.

Helicopters arrived back to back at 3 p.m. and, within an hour, there were only eight of us left.

We settled in for a gourmet dinner and listened to Pat play guitar. At sunset, we went outside in short sleeves to get some photos. Kevin joined me on the snow. He said that what I’d said today, well he could relate to it, letting Jim be dead and letting his spirit be free. Then in his uninhibited way, he looked at me with his head cocked slightly and said, "I just don’t understand why it doesn’t feel any better." I told him that I have tried unsuccessfully to package my grief and my pain up neatly in a box and move on. I guess being better is often equated with feeling no pain.

It doesn’t seem to work that way. As long as we love Jim it will hurt and it is hard to accept that it will always hurt. The trick may be not to fight the pain, to let it be, because if you cut yourself off from the pain, you cut yourself off from the love. And you have to be alive to feel pain. And being alive is good.