Reflection by Iris

My memories of Ben Horne:

The following reflection is a hybrid of what I’ve captured in writing and of what I can remember sharing from the heart at the Maintain the Light Memorial Service in Houston, TX.  I should mention that in both ways, through writing and speaking in front of others about these memories, I have overcome my tendency to bottle things up that I would otherwise want to share.  I have Ben to thank for that inspiration now and moving forward, to be both true to myself and to boldly push for ongoing self-growth and positively impacting others.

Returning to Rice this October 2012, during a most amazing Centennial Celebration, drew symbolic parallels in remembering Ben.  He thrived in celebrating the diversity and vibrancy of people just as this institution unconventionally does and continues to do.  As you walk around our beautiful campus, taking in the nostalgic and the new, there are colorful flags lining the inner loop of important events in the history of the university.  Well, I realized, that during my time here 10 years ago which were some of the most formative and memorable 4 years of my life, that Ben indeed is present in so many of my “flags” of memories of joyful moments.  These memories are vivid because I was truly engaged in enjoying life, and probably also because I took a lot of pictures that I’ve been able to go back to and reminisce with—whether important events in my college experience to silly randomness.  I feel so fortunate to have known Ben, and yet so aware of how much I missed out by not having known him better, engaged in deeper discussion, or having our paths cross much after our time at Rice.

Let me share some of the “flags” that Ben is a part of:

--Ben was actually one of the first people I met during move-in day of O-Week.  Within the whirlwind of newness, he had that uncanny ability to make me feel like I was worth meeting and that I had a new friend, and I in turn confident from that first week starting college that I was in the right place to discover myself and the incredible cast with big and small roles altogether important to my Rice experience.

--We got to perform together in the Freshman One Act Plays, the following year in the musical Hello Hamlet, and in our Senior year he enthusiastically accepted my request he help host/narrate “Colores Latinos”—which was “my baby”--a dinner and show production showcasing Latin American culture that we put on for an audience that packed Grand Hall.  He was always ready and willing to help share his charisma, and I in turn enjoyed also seeing him dance for the Southeast Asian Society’s awesome cultural events.  He embodied a celebration of diversity and how it can bring us together.

--I can’t help but chuckle at flashing memories of Zoom Loco/ Loco Ben performances at Jamfest or random echoes of his phrases “ebb and flow” and “psychedelic soul…psychedelic sooooouul”;  Food revolution; getting 2-ply toilet paper for the entire campus;  his love for KTRU. And how could I forget, that I actually got to collaborate with him on a rap!  We co-wrote our class song for Wiess ’02 (our dorm): Wiess Wiess Baby, to the tune of none other than Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice baby”.  We let the creative juices flow and came up with punchy lyrics that displayed our class’ swagger and we all had a blast performing it at Willie’s Pub. 

--Recalling displays of competitiveness: whether on the flag-football IM field where the “you can’t measure heart” motto hyped the freshmen guys to championship glory;  his ability to rile up my dear roomie Lisa Gillum-- and I hypothesize it was mainly for the sake of her reaction that he got a kick out;  or the animated debates Ben had with Dave Ramirez and Eric Wingrove about how the Lithuanian basketball team was so underrated and would eventually beat the US team at the Olympics.  Dave and Eric with hearty laughter would proclaim “not in 100 years!’re absolutely crazy Ben”.  Years later, Eric couldn’t help but tell me that in Athens 2004 Lithuania DID upset Team USA and I’m sure Ben reveled in getting that last laugh!  And oh, how he did love his Lithuanian roots.

--Remembering his unwavering loyalty and sense of family:  whether it was his treasured Group 2 from O-week and how superior it was, prompting a “group negative 2” to form with watergun wars in the Acabowl resulting in Kristin Stetcher’s toe as a casualty (I think it broke), but ultimately did stay the most cohesive group until graduation with the picture in the yearbook to prove it;  to sweet vacation memories to the Gillum Weslaco house and South Padre that included a road trip with walkie-talkies, chasing each other with gross seaweed at the beach, pool basketball dunking, unsuccessfully convincing him that swimming in a pool does not substitute showering!, munching on Mrs. G’s homemade granola, chess games with the 221 duo Sandy and Jennie, late night discussions, and early morning payback with the girls painting Ben’s toe nails pink before he woke up .  And through all this, I must say that it is hard to think about many memories while at Rice where his trusted buddy Saheel wasn’t around!

--Finally, perhaps the sweetest memories revolve around religious celebrations:  he got to see me marry the love of my life and fellow Wiessman Eric 2 days after our Rice graduation, he checked in on our DJ the late Dr. Bill, and took a bunch of pictures/or was in a lot of pictures from the disposable cameras on our reception tables where I can see how much he enjoyed and entertained friends that would soon be dispersing all over the country, while he and a few other bold ones where going to find out where Peace Corps would take them.  The last time I would see him in person would be at another special wedding several years later, that of Lisa and Ali, and I knew he was happy to know our close friend had found her “one” and he had a gleam in his eye introducing me to Liora.  Aside I told him “Ben, she’s beautiful” and he nodded in the affirmative and said “inside and out”.    The last memory I want to share is the one that has been playing in my head most—we would worship together at Mass many times during our time at Rice, and encouraged each other to keep our faith strong and to share God’s love with others through actions and respect.  On one occasion, I was sitting in the row behind him in church, and after singing the hymn “On Eagle’s Wings” one of my favorites, he turned around and told me “thank you—that was beautiful”.  Thank you Ben.  The song now couldn’t be more fitting.

Thank you for showing us that we have the capacity to make a lasting impact on others by being ourselves and by bettering ourselves.  We will miss you but we will strive to “Maintain the Light”.  May our loving Lord hold you high in the palm of His hand. 

At, the Rice Centennial Maintain the Light Memorial Service, I sang a song Unlimited written and dedicated to Ben by a mutual friend also from Rice class of 2002—Gabriel Rivera.  He could not make it due to scheduling conflicts with film directing and then leaving to Europe to tour for this new single.  It denotes the way Ben approached life and the faith that gave him strength:

Unlimited  --Written/composed by: Gabriel Rivera Rice ‘02

Fear, is not an option today

‘Cause in this circumstance too I will overcome

And these tears, they will soon wash away

These chains that bind, will just break and fade

They’ll just break and fade

The power within me it’s unlimited

‘Cause the God within me—He is infinite

The power I hold inside me it is limitless

‘Cause the God within me—He will not change

How have you not grown tired of these wars you wage,

Right from wrong and wrong from right, it all starts to feel the same

But your story ain’t over all you gotta do is turn the page,

Start anew, all you need is grace, all you need is grace

The power within me it’s unlimited

‘Cause the God within me—He is infinite

The power I hold inside me it is limitless

‘Cause the God within me—He will not change

He always stays the same, throughout the ages

His love never fails us

He’ll take away your pain, and leave you shameless

His love never fails us

The power within you it’s unlimited

‘Cause the God within you—He is infinite

The power we hold inside us it is limitless

‘Cause the God within us—He will not change

Fear, is not an option today

In this circumstance too, He will overcome