Not my last blog post. Ben’s last blog post.
Once again I have come around to another one of those “one year” markers. One year ago today, on December 5, 2015, Ben put pen to paper for the last time. Or fingers to keyboard, to be more exact. He was scared. In hindsight I now realize he was even stronger than I was aware of at the time. Fear had to have been consuming his every thought and yet, with the exception of this post that he wrote, he never really let it show. My God he was a brave man. How he loved us to try to keep that fear to himself and not burden us further.
So here we are one year later and I am remembering when Ben wrote his last post. I didn’t actually know it was the last one he would ever write, at the time. I guess if I had put any thought into it I probably should have known, since I certainly knew that it wouldn’t be long before he would be drawing his last breath.
It was around this time that several “lasts” happened. Ben had recently watched his daughters play the last volleyball games he would ever see. When he was at that game I knew it would be the last one he would see, so thank God he was greeted by this special scene, if you recall:
By this time last year Ben had seen some of his friends for the last time. He had played his guitar(s) downstairs in his “man room” for the last time.
Over the last 11 months I have often thought about all the “last times” we had, and I’ve tried to pinpoint when they happened. Its not something you normally think about each day. You don’t generally pick out a new lipstick or buy some oranges and wonder “will this be the last time I buy a new lipstick / oranges?” But I think about it now and I try to remember those “lasts” even if I didn’t know they were “lasts” at the time.
The last time Ben enjoyed the hot tub that he loved. (I don’t remember.) The last time we went for a walk together. (I do remember, and I knew it was the last time when it was happening.) The last time we went to the grocery store together. (Don’t remember). The last time he cooked a meal. (I do remember. New Years Eve. Gluten free pizza. I actually think in fact it may have also been the last real meal he ever ate.) The last time we shared a Starbucks. (Don’t remember). The last time we saw certain people. (I do remember. Cal Traversy, Kevin Rolston, Joel Hunt, Sharon Woodburn. I’m pretty sure they knew it too.) The last time he drove his truck. (I do remember, because I was scared shitless.)
The last time Ben drove his truck was on December 31st, 2015. A mere thirteen days before he died. He drove it in the middle of the night when he should not have been driving at all, and I laid awake praying that he would be able to make it safely back home and that it wouldn’t be the last time I would see him alive. I knew that was coming soon enough and I wasn’t ready. Not yet.
By the time December had rolled around I knew Ben shouldn’t be driving anymore at all. He was in too much pain and taking way too many drugs and I tried to gently stop him, but he insisted he would “know” when it was time to stop. (Just like he said he would know if the time ever came that he would need to teach me the banking or how to take care of the hot tub. And just as I knew would inevitably happen, my stubborn Ben never acknowledged when any of those times came.)
Ben told me he would never risk anyone’s life by driving when he shouldn’t, and I know that in his heart he meant what he said but he was no longer in a position where his judgement could be trusted. That was a terrible dilemma, let me tell you, and in the end my love for Ben and my desire to see him happy won out over safety. I simply couldn’t bear for him to be upset with me if I took away his keys like a child, so instead I made sure that our kids didn’t get in the truck again when Ben was driving.
This past weekend a brand new 2016 “last” occurred. I watched Jaime play volleyball for the last time. She played in the Provincials and then hung up her court shoes. Here’s a couple of highlights …
I will admit to being hyper aware of every moment of the last game, and wondering if Ben too had been thinking the same thing as he watched his last volleyball game.
Life is full of lasts, I suppose. The last time your child wears a diaper, the last day of school, the last day they tolerate you walking them to school, the last day they live in the family home.
It’s also full of firsts. The first time you meet the person with whom you intend to spend the rest of your life.
The first time you watch your life partner hold your new baby.
The first time you dance on the beach.
The first time your daughter says “tooted”
The first time one of your kids graduate.
I guess that’s just the way life goes. One day it’s a “first”, the next day a “last”, and on and on it goes. That’s what keeps life interesting. We never know what’s coming right around the corner. And while that’s probably a good thing, let this serve as a reminder for you to really savour those sweet moments in life. You just don’t know when it’s a “last.”
Hug your families.