Dear Ben … Love, Mario

Words written and read by Ben’s dear friend and former supervisor, Mario Bourdages, at his Celebration of a Life Well Lived.  Mario was a rock for Ben during his illness.  Even when Ben was at his lowest, he always managed to pull it together to go have coffee with Mario because that was a highlight of his week.  Mario always came to visit Ben in the hospital, and tried to take Ben’s mind off his illness.  He was a true friend to Ben, and he and Julie have been true friends to myself and the kids.  This morning when I was at my lowest, Julie asked if they could come by and I said ‘no’ because I didn’t want to get out of bed.  They ignored me and came anyway.  Thank you.

******

Wendy, Zak, Jaime, Raegan, family, colleagues and friends. My name is Mario Bourdages, and I was a colleague and a friend of Ben. I am honoured to speak today and to celebrate Ben’s life, and I know that this is what Ben would have wanted, a celebration.

I worked with Ben for the past 8 years, and I met with him every week or so for the past 7 months. Ben was a quiet guy and did more then his share of the work. He never complained about anything. He did whatever work needed to be done without hesitation. Whatever I asked him to do, whether it be a difficult, complicated task, a menial one, having to travel out of town or working long hours he would say “Sure I’ll do that”. He never spoke negatively about anyone and was always professional with everyone. He also had a great sense of humour. I also instructed on courses with him and he was great with the candidates helping them out through difficult tasks. All the candidates enjoyed working with him.

Ben would always wear earbuds when he was in the office. He had those things on all the time and he still got his work done. Some say he had those things in because he loved music. I think he did that to tune me out.

Another thing about Ben, and I don’t know if anyone who knew Ben noticed this, but Ben loved his groceries. He loved to eat. Loved to cook. He loved food from different cultures, especially spicy foods. I never knew that this would one day help him with his work.

One day Ben and I were meeting with an informant, and it was the first time Ben would meet this person and he would then take over as the main contact person for this individual. Ben wanted to make sure this went well, so he decided we would meet at a restaurant and have a meal with the person, giving him an opportunity to bond with them.  Good excuse for a free meal!  Ben and the individual got on the topic of food, and Ben mentioned that he liked spicy foods. The individual told us the restaurant has super spicy wings, and Ben, to make an impression said, “I’ll have that.” The individual told us that they are so hot that the restaurant makes you pay for them before they bring them out, because people never come close to finishing them. Ben said “that’s for me.” Well, we paid for the wings and before the plate hit the table Ben had already eaten 3 wings. Within a few seconds, Ben was on fire. He couldn’t drink enough water. He was sweating profusely and sweat was dripping from his face. He couldn’t eat anymore and all of a sudden he started to hiccup uncontrollably. The individual we were with was laughing so hard I thought he was going to pee his pants. Ben was hiccupping, laughing and sweating. This lasted for about 30 minutes, and Ben could not speak but he was able to laugh at himself. We finished our meeting and we parted ways. Even though Ben wasn’t able to say much during that meeting, the individual instantly liked Ben and ended up having the best working relationship with Ben.

During the last several months I met with Ben every week or so, and during all our visits, Ben never complained. He never complained about pain and I know he was often in pain. He never complained about having this disease, and never blamed anyone for what was happening.  He never felt sorry for himself.   He dealt with this awful disease like he handled everything else in life.  Taking it straight on  and doing whatever he had to do to try to beat this thing.   He fought a very courageous battle and kept his sense of humour right to the end.

This taught me a lot about how to live.

Behind every great man there is always a strong woman. Wendy has been a pillar of strength for Ben and the entire family. She fought right along with Ben, never taking no for an answer from anyone.  Staying positive after every set back. Even during the most difficult times she kept family and friends updated on Ben’s condition. And when it was obvious that there was no more ways to fight, she made sure Ben was made as comfortable as possible.

You are a very strong and courageous woman Wendy.

Kids, your mother is a great lady and your father, your husband, was a great guy.

Ben, you are greatly missed. Rest in peace my friend.

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