Erhard

Losing someone close to you hurts. It hurts so bad that sometimes you wonder if it might just be easier if you were dead so you wouldn’t have to feel so much pain and grief. It gets easier to wake up as the long days go by, but they’re always with you.

Losing someone that you weren’t close to, someone who you knew was a wonderful person that affected your life, losing them is hard too. It still affects you. The wound is deep because you wish you’d known them better, wished you could have spoken with them more often. The pain lies mostly in regrets. Why didn’t we keep in touch more often? I wish I could have let him know how much his teachings helped me, how much they meant to me. 

I lost someone. He wasn’t close to me, but I would confidently call him my friend. When I saw him in the spring, when I was camping with my daughter, he hugged me like we were best friends. He gave a great hug. His eyes always sparkled with the joy of being alive. I’ve only ever seen him at Frontenac Park, in fact, he was the one who taught me how to winter camp. He was quirky and sweet, and I feel like even though I had only met him a couple of times, this would be a friendship that would be ever-lasting. I adored his accent. I found it astonishing (and hilarious!) that he insisted on carrying some of the heaviest, army-surplus camping equipment because he felt that it was better made, and sturdier (also heavier!) than the flimsy stuff they make these days. I am a better person for having known him.

My heart goes out to the people that knew and loved him; cherished him. Especially to the friend that was with him when he drowned. I can’t imagine the survivor’s guilt he must feel.  I can only imagine how I would feel in his place. I hear he’s taking it hard and my heart aches for him. I wish I could make it better for him, but I don’t know how. I’m a virtual stranger to him, just one of the many people he’s taken out to the bush and taught how to winter camp. I wish him all the best, and I hope he’s not too hard on himself. But he will be, as men are.

Erhard. Don. Faye. These people taught me all the things I would need to know to keep myself warm and safe while winter camping. They taught me how to have fun out in the bush. They taught me that you’re not a true Canadian until you’ve done it in a canoe.

Now I’m a true Canadian and the world seems a little less bright with his absence. How do you move on from something like this? How do you continue doing the thing you loved, when you did it with the person who’s now gone?

My thoughts are with the people who were closest to him. Faye, Don, Jerome. His kids. I wish I could just hug them all and assuage their aching hearts. Ease some of the burden of their loss. And I will. There’s going to be a celebration for him, which I think is just so beautiful. What a wonderful way to honor the life of a dear friend than to hold a celebration in honor of the adventurous life they lived. I will bring wine and keep the drinks full to the brim, until the tears of grief become tears of laughter.

It hurts to know that when I go back to Frontenac for a camping adventure, he won’t be there to meet up with. It’s probably selfish of me to think this way, because I barely knew him. But I’ve never met a kinder, more gentle soul than Erhard Frenzl.

Wherever he is, I bet he’s looking down on us from the best camping spot God ever created, smiling with that sparkle of mischievous joy in his eye.

 

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