Reflection by Emily

February 1, 2013

Dear Gary,

I sit here not really knowing what to write and still in total and utter shock that Ben is no longer here.

I can hear his voice, I can see his laugh, I can feel his presence.  It just doesn’t seem real and I half expect him to call or pop by out of the blue.  At the funeral, I could hear him saying “These people are all here for ME?” in a very innocent and surprised way.  When communion was given I was very embarrassed that I didn’t know what to do and I could hear Ben say “Screw what everyone else thinks, get up and do it”. And I did it…for him…I found out later from Larisa that I probably wasn’t supposed to and then laughed because I knew he would have found the honest mistake very funny.  I don’t think he knew how many people he had touched.  I don’t think he knew how far his wings had spread.  I don’t think he knew the depth at which he truly connected with souls across this world.  I think about him every day… 

I can only image what your family is going through.  How worried you all must have been when you hadn’t heard from him.  How you must of prayed during the week he was missing.  How hard it was to make the trip down to pick up his body.  You all looked SO strong at the funeral and accepting of Ben’s fate.  I “expected” the family to be a total mess and very angry at God for taking this life.  I guess it was more of a projection of how I estimate I would have felt in the situation.  I did NOT see that from your family.  What I saw was a tribute to the extraordinary life Ben led and an acceptance by all of you that this was his fate. I can’t imagine what your family continues to go through.  The “firsts” that we talked about and the unexpected reminders that must smack you across the face when you least expect it.  I get those smacks too, and it strikes with such a vengeance that it reminds me to appreciate life and all that I have.  I lost 4 close people last year, so the smacks are varied, unpredictable, and frequent.       

I only take solace in the fact that Ben was LIVING his life when he died.  That he had done amazing and courageous things around the world. That he had been adventurous and free.  That he had lived hard and taken advantage of all that was given to him in body, mind, and spirit.  That he was a whole human being who seemed content and happy.     

Ben was:

So magnanimous, so much larger than life

So independent in his spirit, very much unaffected by the normal rules of society

So good and honest and true to himself

So innocent

So fun and mischievous

So content and happy

Extremely creative and a fantastic writer

An exceptional athlete

Very encouraging

Lightning smart and sharp as a whip

Adventurous and a true traveler off the beaten path

The kind of person that brought everyone together

Very unassuming and grounded in what he thought of himself

A remarkable human being…

Ben, I will pay attention to the “signs” that surround me and would like to think that they are coming from you.  I know that you are still a good friend and will watch over me as you always have.  I miss you very much and would like to think that one day, you will pop by.    

Until we meet again, take care of yourself!  Soar up in heaven as you have here on earth…

With love,