Another year has passed. Difficult to believe that it's been that long since I lost Ben. It's so long ago since I held his hand, or laughed with him, or seen his smiling face, or went for a bike ride with him. Too long. Much too long. But the feeling of when I lost him is like a painful cut that just won't stop bleeding no matter how much I try to heal it. Yes, it's bleeding less but sometimes it opens up like the stitches were cut.
Memories can't heal the pain and sadness. They often bring back the feeling like he's just in the room next door, but reality hits with an unbelievably cold slap in the face. I look at those photos and videos and remember all the feelings of the time they were taken. The happiest times of my life. Now, I feel like I'm dragging my feet with my head down, waiting... waiting...
I'm at the point where retirement is just around the corner but I hesitate, like many do I'm sure, to make the move. Honestly, why? Why retire? Seems my job keeps me busy and my head in a place where I don't have time to think of the loss. When things slow down, the wave creeps back in like a slow rising tide of sadness and emptiness. It's the start of the summer holidays and honestly, I'm not looking forward to it.
Last summer I spent 5 weeks in France and the UK, moving every three days visiting places I've never been, family and cousins I've never met and it was amazing! It was all new and it kept me busy, especially lugging around two big suitcases going from taxis, to metro, to trains, to boats, to planes, to rental cars... It all kept my mind (and body) busy. Landmarks, that Ben and I talked about, I visited, but by myself. He was supposed to be with me. Yes, I know what you're saying, "He was..." Sometimes it felt like he was, but more often than not, I was alone. Nothing like spending time in an amazing country by yourself. What saved me, was the cousins I met or reconnected with after such a long absence (45 years!). It felt like home in a way.
This summer, it's my annual motorcycle trip with "the boys" for nine days, starting tomorrow and then it's home. I need to travel. Anyone interested in coming along? I promise, I won't be depressed. It's the new thing I find uplifting, is travelling to places I haven't been. I do tend to be nostalgic and relive memories but new horizons make me move forward. I think that's what some people need after losing a child, or anyone for that matter. However, moving forward feels like you're abandoning the memory and feelings of the person lost. You feel guilty for letting that become the past. I know it's not true but it certainly feels like it. I've mentioned this before, but I once told Ben that my life would be in the gutter if I were to lose him. He said a big, "No!", and then, "I love you so much." People say that they would want you to move forward and enjoy life. I have a feeling the end of my days won't be going there. At least that's where my head is now.
I know that sometimes, ok, often, I just need someone to give me a freaking kick in the butt and say, "Come with me, we're doing this today, and then this ..." It's difficult to get out of that spiral alone. Ben always got me out of that situation. He did this for everyone that met him. He was such a positive influence and an uplifting spirit that you couldn't help yourself but be happy around him. I know many of his friends would attest to that. So, I guess that's why I'm where I am.
There are so many similarities with my mother and Ben. I grew up with parents that were always positive and enjoyed life to the max. You could always count them to make things happy around you. When my parents passed away at a young age (57 for my mom and 67 for my dad), the sunshine was taken away from me. My compass couldn't find north again. When Ben (and Steph) were born, my compass worked and the sun was out everyday. When Ben left, so did the sun and my compass isn't working. Steph keeps things real for me. A ray of sunshine. I just wish for her, that she still had her brother to laugh and make jokes with. they always got along and never fought. I wish Ben were here to see her change and graduate and one day become a nurse. I wonder if he ever thought that he would not see her grow up.
Ben would have been 24 years old this year. I see his friends have their 24th birthday and I wonder if they still think of him. I know some do. I wonder what Ben would be doing now. I know he wanted to be a marine biologist but he also had aspirations for writing (of course) but also film making. One of his best friends is in broadcasting. They both made movies together when they were younger. I guess I'll never know.
Well, thank you for continuing to read Ben's site and my thoughts, as depressing as they sound. I am sharing my deepest thoughts of how it feels to lose a child and I'm building the courage to see things positively like he did, despite the cancer and treatments he had. It's not easy going through all the levels of grief. I think I'm still at the sadness and depression stage but certainly moving closer to acceptance. Living in a house where he used to be is comforting in a way but also sad as I feel even more his absence.
I'm so proud of all his accomplishments and the creativity he found despite all his setbacks. He always kept things positive. Even they day before he passed away, he managed to give us a couple of smiles and waved his hand having been unresponsive for days.
It's not what we possess or our status ... the only thing that matters is that you made people around you happy and that you went out of your way to show you care. Being kind to others makes you feel like you've done something that matters. I remember on one of Ben's list of thing to do, he wrote, "Make everyone happy". Well, he did that.
I miss you so much my best buddy.