My blog post as published on the Soaring Spirits website today:
Words spoken at the service by Jeff, one of Ben’s closest friends. Having Jeff with us for almost two weeks was like having a little piece of Ben here still. A little bit more of our hearts were torn away when Jeff had to go back home. We miss him too.
Thank you to everyone here today for coming. Ben was such a great guy, a great friend and a great member and it’s wonderful to have so many people come out. It means a lot.
Thank you to the medical staff who worked so hard to help Ben. I had the opportunity to meet some of you and was so thankful for the care you gave to my friend.
Thank you to the Force. An organization is just a collection of people and, in this instance, the RCMP has shown consistently the calibre of people that we have. The Force has been kind, compassionate and caring in it’s dealings with Ben and his family throughout his illness and after his passing. I’m grateful for that. After recent meetings with the members of the Force I texted my wife Chelsea with the message “Proud to be a member today.”
Some time ago Wendy asked if I would speak at Ben’s service if that day came. I said yes, but I kind of never really planned on doing it. My mind just refused to go to a place where Ben was no longer alive. I told Chelsea about it and she suggested that I start on it before Ben passed. She thought it would be easier. I couldn’t. I just refused to go there mentally. Even after he passed, I had a very difficult time actually sitting down to write these words. How could I encapsulate either Ben or our friendship in these few minutes? I can’t. But I can let you know the Ben that I knew.
He was wonderful. He was funny. He loved to laugh. I used to tease Ben relentlessly and while he could give it back, he also had this great quality of being able to just enjoy the joke and laugh, even when the sharp end was pointed at him. He knew it was meant with love and he took it that way. I found a video recently of me teasing him and on that video you can hear that he’s the one laughing the hardest.
He loved playing guitar. He loved music. Not a band or a genre but music. All of it. Last time I was out we were driving somewhere and the music in the car went from Rage Against The Machine to Taylor Swift to Muddy Waters to John Mayer.
He was smart. He was deep. He was understated. Ben was a guy that you didn’t really see coming. There was no flash or pretentiousness. He wasn’t out to impress you. What you saw is what you got and I loved that about him.
He was someone I could call anytime, about anything and talk. It could be some complex issue that I wanted to dissect or it could be how the next UFC fight matched up. We talked all the time. We talked so often that our families recognized each other’s text and ring tones and would call out who it was. Ben’s kids would say that it was Dad’s boyfriend. My kids would say “Uncle Ben!” More than anything, I’m going to miss his presence. Even when we were out of touch for a few days I always knew that he was there. He was a fixture in my life that I could always count on.
One final thank you. To Ben’s family, all of you, thank you. Thank you for opening your home, and your lives, to me, especially during such precious times. I’ve been blessed to be able to have just been one of the family, in my last visit here in November and during this visit. It would have been understandable to keep Ben’s last days and hours to yourselves. Instead, you made sure I knew I was welcome and wanted. As hard as some of that time was, it’s also filled with some very precious memories that I’ll carry with me always. So much of my relationship with Ben was made up of fun. So many of my memories are of Ben and I talking and laughing. Yet now, after these last two visits, some of my fondest memories are of us all sitting around together, just hanging out, close to and around Ben. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to spend so much time with all of you.
Wendy, I’ve watched you take care of Ben. In making sure he got the care he needed, in making sure he kept his spirits up (even when yours probably weren’t) and in making sure he felt comfortable and loved.
Zak, Jaime, Raegan … Ben loved you all so much and was so proud of each of you. Long before I met you, I’d heard all about you. Ben talked about you all the time. Now, having spent time so close to all of you it’s easy to see why. I heard about parkour, and soccer and volleyball and family vacations. I heard about good times and about hard times, and through it all it was clear how much he loved you. I know how much he missed you when we travelled for work. I know that he thought about all of you all the time.
It’s been a pleasure, and I can’t say that enough, getting to know each of you. You’re each so special and it’s comforting to see your father in each of you, to get little glimpses of my friend…
Zak, you’re such a kind and considerate young man. On the day that Ben passed, I was floored when one of the first things you did was think of your mom. You went out and got her flowers.
Jaime, in you I see your dad’s humour, his personable nature, his fun, talkative side. I’ve enjoyed our driving lessons so much.
Rae, you have your dad’s wit and his what-you-see-is-what-you-get nature. That’s a rare quality and even more rare in a young girl.
Having been immersed in your family, it’s easy for me to see why Ben fought so hard for so long and right up until the end.
I like quotes and so I’ll end with two…
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” As a friend, as a father and husband, as a member, the impact that Ben has had on the lives that he’s touched can’t be measured and his importance can’t be overstated.
And since he loved music, I’ll quote a Tragically Hip song, “Heaven is a better place today.”
I miss you buddy.
Fresh off the plane from Iqualuit with only the shirt on his back and undies on his junk (since his luggage did not arrive) …
… heeeeerrrrreee’s Jeff!