Every time I’ve thought of you over the last month, my heart has been heavy and filled with sadness. I’m filled with confusion and questions that I know will never be answered. I can’t stop wondering what went wrong. At what point did life let you down so much that you felt forced to make the decision you did? How did my happy-go-lucky, laid-back, jovial friend turn into a person who had to face life’s hardest battle, fighting and struggling to stay alive. I feel anger and frustration amongst my sadness and a strong sense of injustice and disbelief over why life has to be so difficult for some people. These feelings spin throughout my heart, and then I remember. I remember the person you were. Your friends did an amazing job of describing you at your funeral. Elon talked about how you could talk medicine with the doctors, law with the lawyers, yet also break into a rap song on the street with a homeless person. Your heart held no boundaries – you judged no one and gave everyone a chance. I also remember your laughter. I remember your charm (oh my, were you ever charming!). I remember your gentle soul. I remember the way you’d call me “Stacers” in that relaxed, deep voice of yours. And I remember how incredibly genuine you were. And then, amongst all the heartache, I smile.
I smile at memories of high school times. Endless nights hanging out at people’s houses, parties, going to prom (both yours and mine) in the same group, you driving up to my parent’s house in some random car you were playing with at the time, beach week. And I smile at memories of college times. You visiting me in the dorms, me visiting you at your frat house, college parties, road trips, and more good times. And then I smile at my memory of the last time I saw you. Tony and I were living in Tucson and, true to typical Ben nature, you called me up out of the blue and asked if you could come visit in two days time. And you did. Your first day there was a typical hot Arizona summer day, and you wanted to go hiking, despite the fact that the temperature was well over 100 degrees. So we did. I panted up the mountain and you practically ran to the top. And what did you do when we got to the top? You took your shirt off and dropped to the ground and started doing push-ups. And, of course, you then had to top off all of your exercise with a cigarette. That memory brings a smile to my face every single time because that is who you were. Spontaneous, full of life, charismatic, and fun. I’m sorry that I hadn’t seen you in so long, Ben. I’m sorry that we lost touch. I’m sorry, Ben, that I didn’t realize until you were gone, just much I appreciated the times when we were friends. How much you, and the person you were, taught me. I’m so sorry that life turned on you and became so unbelievably hard. And, most of all, I’m sorry that you’re no longer here. You will forever hold a place in my heart. Rest in peace, Ben, rest in peace.
I've only done one other layout in my life that was so difficult, and that was when I scrapped about my grandfather's death on 9/11/01. Both times, however, creating these layouts was so cathartic and therapeutic. It truly reminds me (like I could ever forget, lol!) why I scrapbook. This is what it's all about.