Editorial: The things we take for granted
We were stunned last week by word seemingly out of the blue of the passing of Barry Locher, onetime editor of the State Journal-Register in Springfield.
Locher was a pioneer of sorts, a photojournalist who was not pigeonholed by that special skill, who rose by an unconventional path to head the newsroom. It's rare for a photographer to get that opportunity or even to envision the possibility. In climbing those ranks, Locher made outstanding photojournalism a signature of the Journal-Register of his day.
But as important as that was, this was not the most important thing about Locher. The most important thing about him was that he was an exceedingly good and beloved man.
One of the best of men, generously giving, markedly unassuming.
He had been ill for awhile but we had lost touch. And he was not that old -- 65 -- and very much an outdoorsman. So we were caught off guard by news of his passing. And as too often happens to too many of us, we are left now not just with our memories of this collegial friend, but also with our regrets.
The sun comes up each morning and the dark sky turns blue each day. Until one day, it doesn't. Until one day, clouds hide the sun and paper over the sky.
We take so much for granted.
If there's one thing this historic year of the pandemic should teach us, it is that -- that we take so much for granted.
Until this year, we took for granted casual get-togethers with friends and family. We took for granted crowded movie houses, summer picnics and community festivals, and ballgames packed with boisterous fans.
We took for granted spontaneous lunches and sharing Friday night drinks; took for granted shopping excursions, sending the kids off to school, engaging in church fellowship, mingling at our places of work.
We took for granted that we would have a job and that any changes to our livelihood would evolve slowly with plenty of time to adapt.
We counted on being able to comfort loved ones at the hospital and to have a chance to say our goodbyes at funerals.
We took for granted our health and the well beings of our loved ones.
At birthdays, we assumed there would be another.
One thing the pandemic should teach us is that none of this is promised. None of it is owed to us.
All of it -- every blue sky we see, every love we hold, every breath we take -- is a gift.
If we understand that, then we give thanks for it. Then we cherish it. Every ounce, the good and the bad. Because they're all gifts.
It is easier said than done, but let's vow in the shadow of this pandemic to stop taking life for granted.
Let's vow not to be mean or small.
Let's vow to be loving and kind.