Dear Jeffrey, tomorrow you will be 28…

As I sit here typing this – from Westchester, NY, for my week-long NYU MBA Residency, it occurs to me that a substantial part of this is due to your presence in my life.  Prior to your death, I was a lost soul swimming upstream in a murky fish bowl.  There was little interest in discipline, compassion, or spiritual growth.  While you were still here, in fact, I was more into collecting that which was instantly gratifying, easily disposable, and egocentric.  Maybe I haven’t completely rid myself of the latter, but I do work hard to achieve a heightened level of communication with my sacred self.

Without Alexander Graham Bell there wouldn’t be a telephone (sorry Lady Gaga you didn’t have first dibs), and without you – Jeffrey Lee Ben – I wouldn’t have had any ‘telephone’ to pick up and get in touch with what is at the very core of existence; love and compassion.  Without these two very crucial life tools, I would not be as successful in all my endeavors in life.  Let’s face it the one component that ties the two (love and compassion) together is understanding, and you may climb the ladder of success without it but you will more than likely be alone.

This one is for you my brother.

Sissy

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Dear Jeffrey, 3 days until you’re 28…

I’ve learned that choices define you and (in more ways than even I can understand) others are contingent upon who I am to define parts of them.  Like you, Jeffrey, the choices you made while you were walking this earth presented choices that may not have been presented to me otherwise.  Some choices are poor and you can never take back, but at least they’re yours.  Though, a choice that takes away the choice of another is – in a lot of ways – a mortal sin that destroys the grace of not just the one left without choice but all those contingent upon. This becomes a domino effect of freewill genocide.

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, and sometimes I knew good-and-well I was making them (I file these under the ‘mistakes I knew I was making’). However, today my soul rings of the voices and experiences in my life that moved me…changed me in one way or another…leading me closer to my truth.  I’m no longer in a goose hunt for truth searching frantically for instant gratification at the expense of others.  Truth journeyed into my heart.  It’s within me already and so many others contribute to it.  In so long as I am honest with myself, I’m honest with the world and putting forth energy that builds meaning.  I admire you, Jeffrey.  The energy you put forth into the world had such unequivocal grace, and that choice defines me and has become my only weapon.

Eternally grateful,

Sissy

Dear Jeffrey, 10 days until you’re 28….

I remember you,

Though I age my lines get deeper and defined,

While yours go unchanged and more soft-focused with time,

All the heaviness fades to lightness as I grow into being,

A fantasy life, I imagine, who you could be,

I remember you,

Surfing through people with attention and ease,

Looking for neglectful and clumsy me,

Your spirit was so free,

Mine locked down by judgmental, grudge-filled, heady thinking,

I remember you,

Exuding happiness into everything,

Most of which I inevitably drained,

A smile in the world you left behind,

Beamed life into my soul,

What you already knew,

I’m still finding out,

I remember you,

You taught me what life was about.

-Your sister (Friday, the 13th of August in 2010)

Justice for Jeffrey

What If Monster (2 of Hearts)

This morning I cried in the shower.  I felt in coming on while I was downstairs in the kitchen when the what if monster entered my mind.  Specifically, I was perusing the photos of my late brother’s ex fiancee and it was photos of her children that really caught me off guard.  It was truly like a bus landed on me.

“What if these little girls were my nieces?”

That simple question sawed me to the bone as I looked deeply into the photos for any semblance of my brother, but these were not his children.  This was not his life, and this world no longer belonged to him.  After I crawled from under the bus, I took a shower.

There are a million what if’s in the day, but when one like this latches on it really makes your world spin.  Like a domino effect, my unsettled soul lashed out at my dog that had dragged cat litter onto my freshly-made bed and then onward to work I went.  You see where this is going, right?

Now that I’ve swallowed the permanent lump in my throat named Jeffrey, at least for today, I felt another sadness for his ex fiancee.  Within the same year (2001) she lost her first love in January and her birthday celebration forever changed on September 11th.  That particular year was a tough one for us, and it lasted for five years.

It was strange to accept her Facebook request and see she had grown up, but Jeffrey will be forever young.  Time, disproportionate as it seemed, had moved on without him in more ways than one.  What if he could see it now?

I found another 2 of hearts playing card in the bustling Penn Station, a commuter hub, and as I picked it up below a man’s rushed step I knew Jeffrey was sending me love.  I guess disproportionate time is a reminder of what my finite existence here in this life cannot understand; the infinite.

My brother’s love is infinite, and I don’t expect the what if monster to leave but I suspect he showers me from above when my tears become words the heart can’t express.

2-of-hearts

Pictures Of You.

I keep a framed photo of my brother, Jeffrey, on my home office wall at my desk just below eye level so that when I stare at the blank screen of Microsoft Word he stares back at me. The picture was capture at Clayton Lake when he was about five or so, and it’s in a second-person POV (point of view) so when I look into the photo it’s as though I’m recapturing that moment from my POV.  

 

I remember the day mom snapped the photo because I had always thought of tire swings to function where you sit inside the doughnut hole, but in this case at this particular park the tire was on its side held mid air by the thick yellow rope tied to the brown wooden swing foundation that reminded me of a giant tootsie rolls.  

 

The largest knots I had ever seen were just within reach so that when all of us kids piled onto the tire and dangled our feet in the doughnut hole and we fought to make it move, we would at least have something to hang onto.  The rope seemed like it would be helpful so that we wouldn’t fall, but the coarseness of it made it hard to hang on to and eventually all of us got a rope splinter.  Maybe they should have kid-tested it first.  

 

I was across from Jeffrey when mom took this picture of him squinting as he looked up at mom hovering above and into the only thing he could see through the beaming sun that hid mom’s face; the camera that blocked the sun from his eyes.  I held onto the tire swing with one hand and used the other to put my hands in a salute above my eyebrows so that I could see the moment captured.  Mom gave him a little kiss on the cheek and moved the lens across to me, while Jeffrey flashed a short smile and joined the rest of the kids that attempted to wrestle the movement of their bodies to get the tire swing going.  

 

I put Jeffrey’s picture there so that when I can’t think of anything to write about, all I have to do is look into his eyes and just change my perspective.

 

 

From The Archives: The Road Of Faith (Short Story circa 2001)

This is a short story from 2001 that resonated with the people that knew my brother and his case.  My mom claims it made me famous in our hometown, which really means only 2,000 people read or know about it.

The Road of Faith by Alisa Olander –  A short story written about my brother, Jeffrey Lee Ben, missing in 2001.

Publish at Scribd or explore others: Creative Writing jeffrey ben road of faith

Not Just A Picture On The Fence

My Aunt Lulu is having the below published in the Clayton Today newspaper–the paper in the town in which my brother’s (alleged) murderer lives and where my brother proudly called home.  You will get to know my Aunt Lulu via my 1st book (a memoir), which is nearing completion and currently in the hands of agents.  Additionally, you will grow to love my dear Godmother as you read about her in my brother’s case biography (book #2).  I urge all of you to visit the links on the left of your screen (Missing Links) and just take a look at those missing –it takes one person to heal the heartache like in my brother’s case where loggers found his skull.

It’s also worth mentioning that I had NO CLUE my inherent writing abilities were genetic; I thought it was an anomaly.

Not Just A Picture On The Fence

by Levie Allen  (“Aunt Lulu”)

As we go past Allen’s Used Car lot, you can not help but see the picture of Jeffrey Lee Ben. As memories of my sweet and special nephew race through my mind, I can not help but look up to our heavenly Father and tell Him that Jeffrey was your son first and I am sure he is your son now in heaven, but here on earth, he is not just a picture on the fence. He was a mother and father’s son, a brother to a sister and two younger brothers, a grandson, a nephew, a friend and cousin to many and so on.

You who took his life, I am sure, have asked your self “Why?”– it was not worth it to take his life and face the judgment that you will surely face. Jeffrey had his whole life ahead of him and his life was not yours to take, only God’s. This act was a murder not an accident. The killer did not even have the decency to even bury him but instead threw him up on a side of a mountain like trash to be eaten by the varmints. You thought it would be the perfect murder didn’t you? You thought Jeffrey would never be found, but by the grace of God, he was and God is not through yet, believe me. He has your number and vengeance will be His. Until you, the person(s) responsible, confess and take responsibility for this heinous crime, I will continue to pray for justice for Jeffrey, God has already answered one of our prayers and made way for his body to be found. Jeffrey deserves justice because he is not just a picture on the fence.

jeffrey-smile

From The Archives (circa 2003): Good Whatevers

jeffrey

My brother, Jeffrey Lee Ben, turns 21 this August 23rd.  We made a pact some time ago that we would ring in the occasion by drinking his first legal beer together.  It has been two years and seven months, give or take a couple weeks, since I have physically been in the same room as my brother.  This August 23rd I will keep our promise to drink his first legal beer together despite the absence of his physicality.

 

I get chills, in my car, more so in the winter months of the year.  Initially, it’s frightening and I want the feeling to go away.  Later, it feels like the homecoming warmth of all my favorite feelings in one split-second before I feel the chill.  My brother is sitting, relaxed, in the backseat of my car listening to the whirlwind of thoughts in my head.  We are having conversations of silence for hours before it is time for him to go, wherever he goes. 

 

Before he goes, we share a moment; that moment binds lifetimes of images that I cannot see as clearly when he leaves.  I never want to open my eyes and return to the continuous world around me, reveling in circular bliss and breathing in love all around me; I open my eyes.

         

Trying to make sense of who my brother was to me and who he is to me now, I think about the infinitesimal memories that make the life-size memories seem so much more immeasurable. 

 

The curvature of his slim feet, I remember that.  His nostrils flaring from excitement, I remember that.  The tiny scar above his eye; the imperfections that made him so beautiful, I remember that.  His chest slowly moving up and down while he snored during his sleep, I remember that.  The illumination of his face in reds and greens during an excited Christmas Eve night, I could never forget that.  The textures of his long, thin fingers that would carve out his life, I can see them clearly.  His deep dark expressive eyes that could give him away so easily, crystal clear. 

 

Good whatevers that move us along seem to be life’s way of holding onto the best parts of change.  Easily enough, I could fall down the spiral of anguish to feel the thick ridges in my side.  I keep climbing, though, hearing the voices of my childhood that will never evolve into adulthood.  I am swimming in the sounds of wishful imagery and his voice grows, deepens and makes those would-be words. 

 

He sings for me, he writes for me, he paints for me and I grow without him still yet with him soaring in and out of my being.  I am truly lucky, to have spent eighteen years without an epiphany of how overwhelming a person could be.  Had the epiphany of his amazing existence hit me, long ago, I do not think my heart could stand another life-luster beat. 

 

While I sit, in any bar in any town, waiting for my brother to show up for our drink on August 23rd, I briefly wonder what I would say or do if he walked through the door to meet me for our drink.  As his bottle of beer sits across from me, I will raise mine and send him a toast when the clock hits midnight.  “Happy 21st Birthday my little brother, here’s to ‘good whatevers’ and many more.”

My brother’s Missing Person Poster circa 2001

My second book is a biography based on the case of Jeffrey Ben (my brother), which I will begin interviewing, researching, recollecting, and writing about on the anniversary of what I presume was his untimely death (January 29th). In the meantime, feel free to Google his name or visit the links to the left of here and support our efforts to help find the missing.

missing-poster2

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