The last time I saw my brother he was on the ground playing Rescue Hero action figures with Hayden and Reece; I was leaving town and he had agreed to watch the boys until my husband got home from work.
My boys loved their Uncle Ben. I remember once when Hayden and I were at Trader Joe's, Hayden insisted I call Uncle Ben right then and invite him to dinner and a movie. I called him right there in the store, and he accepted the invitation. Hayden picked the dinner and if I remember correctly we had frozen chicken burritos, à la Trader Joe's. I love telling my sons that story.
|This must have been Thanksgiving, 1997|
By the time I had returned from my weekend away he had left with a friend to climb Mt. Rainier. It was a couple of days later that my mother received the call that shattered our world.
You know, growing up we weren't close, my brother and I. There was a seven year age difference and I remember my brother was always getting into my things, always hanging around when my friends were over, and just generally cramping my style. I let him know how I felt and now, after laying in bed many nights, full of regrets, I try to teach my sons that they need to be kind to each other... that it's the just the two of them, together, that's it. I don't want that relationship to be damaged when they are older.
It wasn't until he was 18 years old that Ben and I started to become friends. We went camping that year, together with my husband, backpacking in the Jefferson Wilderness and then to the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa Mountains. Later, he and I even did a trip just the two of us, I was pregnant at the time and wouldn't even remember it except I have the photos... that seems so strange to me.
|Ben, myself, Bob and Shasta in the Jefferson Wilderness Area, 1995(?)|
Actually, I really don't have many memories of us growing up together. I was away at college and then out of the house for most of his youth. Then he was at Boston College and off to France for two years. Bob and I were unemployed with a new baby when he graduated from college, but we threw caution to the wind and sold some Starbucks stock that I had gotten through their employee program so that we could be there.
|Ben and our parents at his graduation from Boston College, 1998|
After, when he was living in Paris, Bob, Hayden and I made a trip over there to visit. He was planning to come home that year and we figured it was now or never. While we were there he made a video at Mont Saint Michel... I am so happy to have his voice on camera.
|Bob and Ben tasting Calvados in Honfleur, 2000|
I could go on and on, but I didn't intend for this to be so lengthy. I just pray that I am able to love the people around me... really love them~ it's a verb you know, and that I'm kind... and, especially, that I teach my children to love each other.
Thank you for reading...