Reflection by Juliana

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Horne,

I went to Rice with Ben. My roommates (we were a year ahead of him) decided to adopt Ben as "our" freshman at the start of his freshman year. At the start, this was endearing, and he seemed like such a great, vibrant, earnest, kind guy -- the kind of person that made Rice a great place to learn and to be formed into a maturing, considered, informed adult. I was the quiet member of my roommates (and friends), but I always appreciated Ben's zest and thoughtful integrity. He was one part of what made Rice a great growing and learning experience for me. He and Sarah, one of my roommates, co-hosted a KTRU show that spring, and it was fun and a bit zany to hear the combination of their very different musical styles and knowledge. I have a tape of their last show that I keep in our car (which is too old to have a CD player), and it is a great listen for a cheerful day, even after 13 years. Later, they were the DJ directors (I think that was the title) when Rice shut the station down in 2000. Their response, and especially Ben's, was very formative for me. Courageous, well-considered, earnest, active.

I am not one to stay in touch with people, especially larger-than-life personalities like Ben's, but I happened to see his name right above my stepdad's on the Western States page a few days before the race last month. I messaged him on Facebook, asking him if that was him, and he said it was. I watched both bib #s throughout the race (I wasn't able to attend), and loved seeing my Facebook page filled in the following days with pictures and stories of their two runs -- Ben's young and energetic, with other young and energetic pacers, my stepdad's refusing-to-age, 50-something, rejoiced-to-make-the-last-cutoff event with similarly refusing-to-age pacers. Very different stories, and it was so neat to see them side by side.

I can't imagine the depth of grief, to lose a child. I'm so sorry for your family's loss. I'm also thankful that I got to know Ben, a bit, and be influenced and inspired by him during his life.

I'm attaching a few photos of those days -- his freshman year, Ben got ready for Esperanza, a spring formal, at our apartment (you can see that Sofia is still working on her hair); he and one of Sarah's high school friends dressed up in my dress and skirt with silly head pieces in an effort to cheer Sarah up when she left her keys in our door and they were stolen, requiring us to have the apartment re-keyed and infuriating her dad; the superman outfit is from a themed party the architecture students hosted each year to fund their trip to Paris -- that year's theme was "hero".

Grace and peace to you and your family.

You will be in my prayers for a long time.


Juliana Fisher, Rice '01