Reflection by Lisa
 

The reason I got to know Ben, I think, is because he came to my dorm room one Friday afternoon freshman year at Rice and convinced me to drive with him and Saheel to Pensacola, FL for the weekend. I didn't know him very well at that point and I think my objections were "I have a test on Monday" and "we're going to have to turn around and come back as soon as we get there." I was talked out of both of those. What I remember most about that trip is Ben calling some radio station over and over again to request that they play a certain song. He made me call several times with different phones using a different name and they got really irritated with us, but eventually they played the song.

 

We were friends throughout our time at Rice (though I was gone junior year), both joined Peace Corps after graduation, and both ended up in California after Peace Corps, so I have lots of other memories with Ben. He is one of the most radical and spirited people I have ever met, and if I could I would thank him now for being the instigator to some of the most random acts of joy/laughter I have had in my life. However, I have to say that my most treasured memory of Ben is from our sophomore year of college. I told him at a party that I was depressed--I had been saying this nonchalantly to everyone who asked casually how I was doing, and was getting the kind of surface reactions you would expect in that sort of context. But Ben stopped when I said I was depressed, put his hand on my shoulder, and said simply "Life is hard." We just stood there for a moment and I felt profoundly accepted and understood. This, for me, was when we became true friends. His ability to really be with people in the moment, his dedication to thinking outside the box, and his passion for life were all gifts that he gave me and, I'm sure, countless others. I am so thankful to have known him.

 

With great care,

Lisa (Gillum) Finlay