Counting on you - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Last week I wrote about half of a column entitled “The bright side of life”. That would have been the fourth column I’ve written under that title this year. However, I stopped midway and deleted what I’d written because there was no bright side at that time.
As I was writing that column, there was an emergency call to the main street in Blyth. From my office window, I could see firefighters working to revive a man who was prone on the sidewalk. I later found that man was my friend Greg Sarachman and that he had passed away as a result of that incident.
Staring at my screen when I found that out and seeing a plea to look on the bright side of life staring back at me almost made me sick. It’s hard to find a bright side in that moment.
I’ve known Greg for over 10 years. He was a fan of The Citizen and as engaged a reader as we had. He would write letters, speak to North Huron Council and take an active role in opposing the closure of Blyth Public School, despite not having any school-aged children.
I knew him as a passionate advocate for his community, someone who was exceptionally well composed when getting his point across. In fact, when he and several other local residents and politicians began debating issues openly in the pages of The Citizen by way of 1,000-word Letters to the Editor, I eventually had to put him on a word count after weeks of holding news out to make room for their letters. He would tease me about that for years.
Five years ago, we became neighbours as Jess and I moved onto the same block as him. We would often talk about politics and life from our car windows, from our front lawns or at neighbourhood get-togethers. He never lacked insight, wisdom and opinions.
In his last e-mail to me, sent just a few days before he died, Greg praised the work of us here at The Citizen, saying “there are many counting on you and your team’s continued efforts.” Greg saw the importance of local media more than most and cherished having The Citizen here for the community, but even before he died, I took his statement to heart.
As a new father and relatively new husband, there are many people counting on me. But reading the e-mail again after Greg’s death, I read it differently and saw how that statement applies to all of us and those who count on us.
Many counted on Greg. His late wife Roberta counted on him for love and support, which he provided until the end of her life. He was a loving father, a thoughtful friend and a good neighbour. The web of people Greg touched in his life is immense and that can be said for all of us. We all make an impact.
I’m not special as the editor of this fine newspaper. It’s just one of my titles and my impact is no more far reaching than anyone else’s when considered in the context of those titles I mentioned above. We’re fathers and mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, uncles and aunts, employees and bosses, neighbours and friends. We’re members of a community who look after other members of that community, but we’re also looked after by our fellow community members, like our firefighters, politicians, merchants and public works staff.
We’re responsible to many and for many. Our actions have consequences for others to a point it can actually be hard to fathom. So when we lose someone who provided as much for his community as Greg did, that loss is felt far and wide, in places and ways he likely never imagined. Never think you don’t matter. We all matter more than we’ll ever know.
Indeed... there are many counting on you.