Today marks two years since Ben died.
I always pause when I think of how to describe Ben. He was kind. He was a good friend and funny and had a great laugh. I can’t condense all his qualities into a single sentence or paragraph or even pages and pages. He was my brother-in-law and two years ago, he died.
Ben was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease mainly effecting the lungs. In 2011, he was the recipient of a double lung transplant. We watched as instantly his life changed for the better. It was awe-inspiring. (I’m still amazed at the power of modern medicine!) But after what was probably one of the best years of his life, his health started to decline. I heard him whisper it in September, “chronic rejection.” Ben and his body held on as long as they could. In February, he slipped away.
I’ve said a lot about Ben over the years. I’ve talked about transplants and rejection and Great Strides. I wonder if after him being gone for two years there is more to say.
Yes, there is more to say. I think there will always be more to say. I don’t have any new magical perspective. I haven’t reached some peaceful emotional place. Like everyone else, I still miss him. It still feels unreal at times. It will forever feel unfair.
I’m sad. Sad that Ben was cheated out of more time. Sad that those of us that who loved him have to go on without him.
What is new is my respect for him. I mean, I always respected Ben because he was simply such a good person. But as I think back on all he experienced, I’m struck by how incredibly brave he was. He bravely faced his disease. He bravely and patiently waited for new lungs. He bravely went into the transplant surgery. He was brave every step of the way, right through to the end.
There’s so much that I don’t know about what he was thinking and feeling. So much of it he kept to himself. Maybe not to burden everyone around him. Maybe to make it easier for us to be brave. Nothing I’ve faced has been one iota as scary has what he experienced. Realizing that, I appreciate his bravery that much more.
There is no big takeaway or aha or sweet quote to tie up this post in a neat bow. I just want to say how much Ben was loved, how much he is missed, and how I’m only now realizing just how incredible he was.