August 25, 2006 Features & Images » Feature Story

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.

"Then we all gathered on the snow and shielded our eyes from the sun as we peered down the glacier for signs of the whirring machine." Sue Oakey-Baker at the site dedicated to Jim Haberl, photo submitted.
  • "Then we all gathered on the snow and shielded our eyes from the sun as we
    peered down the glacier for signs of the whirring machine." Sue Oakey-Baker
    at the site dedicated to Jim Haberl, photo submitted.

Page 4 of 6

Then it was my turn and I stepped to the centre of the dining room so that I could see everyone. My first words were high and strained and I paused to see if my throat would open, but it didn’t. I looked at Mom Haberl and her head was down and her eyes were full.

"Thank you for coming. It is so nice to have everyone here. Thank you to Alastair for being so dependable throughout this project. Thank you to Al Greer who kept us laughing during our marathon committee meetings.

Jim used to say that family is the foundation of everything we do, and I would like to thank the Haberl family for their help.

When we first started this project five years ago, I latched onto it as a way of keeping Jim alive, a way of even bringing him back to life. But as the years have passed, I realize that building this hut has helped me to let Jim be dead, and to let his spirit be free. When a loved one dies, it seems we are left with memories, some very strong, yet memories can be deceptive after a time. And then it seems we are left with more of a feeling than anything else, a feeling of the heart. And Jim left a lot of people with a strong feeling in their heart. And I realize now that even this feeling cannot be held or contained. It is free to roam just as Jim’s spirit is free to roam, in and out of our hearts, carried on the wind. And as I look around this hut, I cannot think of a more beautiful place to set Jim’s spirit free.

And I think Jim would be smiling to see us all here. He’d be smiling at his nieces and nephews who are winning awards in martial arts, dance and French. He’d be smiling at his parents who recently celebrated their 50 th wedding anniversary. He’d be smiling at his brothers Pat and Kevin who have carved time out of their schedule to come here and climb together. And he’d be smiling at my belly swelling with new life and at the wonderful man who I love now, and he would be saying "right on"… because life goes on, and we are of the living.

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