We first posted this three years ago. It’s now been 14 years…
11 years ago today, my life changed drastically.
In the morning, I had a conversation with my son Ben, a junior in college, about the chance to do an internship in Washington, DC. He wanted to be a lawyer. He’d turn 20 the next day. His birthday present was wrapped, ready to be delivered when I would go to see him in a couple of days.
In the afternoon, I received a call telling me that he was lost, gone, pulled out to sea in the undertow. No hope, the paramedic said. He’s gone.
In the days, weeks, months, and years that have followed, my family has received such an outpouring of love and mercy and care that I still find it hard to realize how God’s people can truly care so much. We have seen lives reclaimed by Jesus, both those who never had known Him before, and those who had wandered astray. We have met servants, dear servants of God, who have yielded their lives in obedient service to the King of Kings because this trying event forced them to face their own eternity with a renewed soberness. And we have known precious saints of God, dear loving friends and amazing family, who have given themselves to being compassionate to those who hurt and to those who suffer and to those who have lost, all because they felt with us an incredible burning loss.
God took a young man’s life and multiplied it. And He’s still multiplying it, eleven years later.
It’s said that there’s no love like a mother’s love. I witness it every year at this time. With tears. With weeping. With strength that only comes from God and His word. With rejoicing that the grave is not the end; no, not at all. And I hold her and weep with her. And I witness our sons and their families as they lavish love on their mom, even as they feel their own pain and loss.
Today my wife wrote this email to our boys. We’ve found comfort in different things over the years, but mostly in the memories of Benny and how he was such a cut-up. Yellow roses became a symbol when he passed from death to life, and each year dear friends and family remember him with these yellow roses. Maybe those two things will help you understand what she wrote below:
This afternoon I could not find any yellow roses in Valley Station. Realizing how silly it would be to drive around to other places to find them, I compromised and got yellow daisies. But I was still feeling guilty.
I was walking across the cemetery wishing I had pretty yellow roses to waste again on Ben’s grave, when a hilarious thought hit me. ‘There are tons of yellow roses right here in this park. It wouldn’t be stealing, just moving them around.’ That’s when it got me. That was probably what Ben would have thought, and I busted up laughing. No, John and Dave, I did not move them. 🙂
And then I saw why there are no yellow roses in Valley. I am not the only one that loves Benny.
When we were in Israel, we learned and saw first-hand that when someone visits a loved one’s grave, they leave a stone. So for my “Jewish” son, I left four stones for the last visits I have made. Thanks Dave for the stones from your back yard. Not that I stole them, just moved them around.”
I love you, Lena. And we all love you, Benny. It won’t be long now, and we’ll all be together again.