A lot can happen in a decade. Time passes and a great many things happen, but yet at times it seems as though no time has passed, it was like yesterday. I’ve thought much about this over the years as I coped with my grief. How could I hold onto every single detail of Jeffrey without succumbing to the deep sadness it brings; the loss of my brother. The coarseness of his short black hair, the slenderness of his feet, his voice as he encouraged me; characteristics of him that haunted me as I longed for him to come back to life.
I won’t deny that Jeffrey Lee Ben’s death was an unusual circumstance, nor will I reveal any major developments in his case. The story hasn’t changed; he was missing for five years until 2006 when we retrieved bits and pieces of his remains from a mountain in Clayton, Oklahoma. Jeffrey wasn’t given a proper burial and all we ‘laid to rest’ fit in a shoe box; my brother’s beautiful growing body deduced to something so small. However, the focus of this piece is not to discuss his exceptionally painful death, rather to share the mindfulness his life has brought into the world.
Over the years I have been led by the lightness of my brother’s being. The weight of his death pales in comparison to his bright light. His life was an inspiration for which I grew. When hatred and anger soil my soul, it’s Jeffrey’s extraordinary smile that cleanses it. When there is sadness or grief, his long arms tuck me into the shiniest of places. Where there is disappointment or insecurity, his voice echoes sentiments of comfort through my hollowed soul. When life gets the best of me, Jeffrey writes encouraging notes in everything. After a decade I learned that when I’m mindful of everything, the easier it is to see this weight as a gift.
(8/23/1982 – 1/29/2001)