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The Heart of the Matter

Taken from:
Saanich News January 2004

Paul Beckow M.Sc. R.P.C.
Individual, Couple, and Family Counsellor

In our lifetime, each one of us will lose someone we love. Losing someone special is a powerful experience, often leaving us touched and changed.

Why is it that life's mysteries and secrets become so present to us when we lose someone? Somehow, death impacts us, and for a short moment we meet a truth deep within the very heart of life.

A little over two weeks ago, our community lost a very special teacher who made an enormous contribution over many years to parents and children at Lochside Elementary School .

On Saturday, January 3, Joy Paquin died suddenly of neiserria meningitis at Victoria General Hospital.

Joy was a compassionate and talented educator who traveled internationally, turning teachers on to the joy of both teaching and learning . Joy was enthusiastic, irrepressible - full of life. She was also a dear personal friend. I loved and admired Joy and her wonderful family. I am sad in my heart.

Over a thousand people gathered at Christ Church Cathedral to mourn her passing and celebrate her life. Lochside School was packed with children, parents, and colleagues who came to pay honour to her very special spirit.

In the gymnasium I became aware of so much from being in the heart stream of the community. We came together, grieved, responded, shared our hearts and our gratitude. It was very clear we were all moved and touched through the powerful message and contribution of Joy's life - her energy and her passion.

And then, while among the throng of friends and families in that gymnasium, I became aware of something more. This awareness first appeared as a question.

Why does it require death to have the deep experience of appreciation, love, and togetherness real amongst us ? Why does it take losing a special person in our life to wake us up? To remind us who we are for one another?

But it does seem like it is that way. Right here, in the mystery of death, lies a powerful teaching for life. Kahlil Gibran writes:

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death
Open your heart unto the body of life.
For life and death are one.

In the gymnasium, as I stood in the midst of all who mourned and celebrated Joy's life together, I was gripped by a powerful "truth" so obscured by our busy lives.
Standing there surrounded by so many others, I became acutely aware of the preciousness of ALL life and the amazing power of community. While it was an experience, this awareness seemed to say:

Our Life is so very brief. We touch one another deeply and personally in the time we share. We are bound together through our families and communities. Our community is our life, the air we breathe - the home of our children, our commitments, our relatedness - our future. It is through community that we share the gift of life we've been given.
And life is the miracle.

Upon leaving the school that afternoon I knew I had been touched by something real and true. The possibility of our relationship, of who we are for one another, is amazing.

These weeks I've been sad. Also, I've been touched and inspired. I've been moved by the life of a truly wonderful friend and an amazing group of teachers, children, and their parents.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote:

"The day will come when after harnessing space, the winds, the tides
and gravitation, we shall harness the energies of love. And on that
day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have
discovered fire. "

To all of you at Lochside, thank you. You not only have discovered fire - you lit the fire! As Joy did. And I am not the same.

Paul Beckow is a trained individual, marriage, and family therapist with over 20 years experience. If you have a relationship and/or family concern, write to him c/o Victoria Family Institute, 4046 Century Rd., Victoria B.C., V8X 2E4, e-mail him at pbeckowLETSTALK@shaw.ca., or call 250 721 2477.

For personal or couple counselling, for more information, or to register for a course - please contact Paul Beckow at The Victoria Family Institute.

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