Tag Archives: birthday

Honouring Memories On Your Special Day

10 Apr

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Dear Ben,

It’s your birthday again. You would have been 46 today. Since I have known you, April 10th has always been a very special day to me, and I am honouring this day again. The last birthday you celebrated on this Earth was your 41st, and while the time may be swiftly passing, year after year, it is with due consideration that I stop to acknowledge your life and take stock of the Earth-bound years we shared together, and the many before that that I knew much about from all your stories. You cherished the memories of your past, both the good and the bad, and it was important for you to share them.

You were born in 1969. You grew up as a teenager in the 80s, developed as a young man in the 90s, and then a decade after that we finally met when you spent the final chapter of your life with me. Between all those years, you led a packed life of adventure, achievement, love, sorrow, struggle, pain, introspection, enlightenment, and many fun times as well, filled with laughter and good humour. I have to say that you also experienced all those sensations even in the short four-and-a-half years that we were together. Those years were nothing if not crazy active and emotionally provocative. It was a roller coaster ride – many ups and downs.

You almost made it until you were 42, and since then I still try to hold on to the memories that we shared. My memory of details in the past is bad, though, but fortunately I have many photographs that document our journey together to bring those memories back to life in my mind, as well as here, in words. And perhaps it is a good thing as well that all of those photographs depict the positive experiences we shared!

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River tubing in Dominica.

When I think of your birthday, for example, April 10th, 2009 comes to mind. That was the year we went on a cruise for your 40th birthday. I knew we would be on the island of Dominica in the Southern Caribbean on April 10th, so I gifted you with an adventure I knew you would love: tubing down the river rapids, like you used to do down the Cowichan River. That was a fun time.

What was not fun, though, I remember, was your feet getting so badly burned as you didn’t put sunscreen on them. You always did crazy things like refusing to wear sunscreen or taking other safety precautions in life, because you thought you were invincible. And judging by the many close calls you had in life, at the time, I was pretty much in agreement with that perception! Those burns on your feet made a permanent imprint that never went away, and perhaps that can pose as a metaphor for the memories I would also like to have imprinted in my mind forever.

Boquita and Ben.

Boquita and Ben.

On that trip, you also showed your innate love and care of animals to me, particularly dogs. I knew that a deep compassion for all beings dwelled inside of you, and that’s a large part of what drew me to you. We met a street dog named Boquita, sitting outside a Walgreen’s with her heroin-addicted guardian, and you fell in love with this sweet creature. You sat with her and petted her, and bought her food and water, wishing you could do more.

It was not easy to communicate with her guardian as he mostly only spoke Spanish, but the next year when we returned, we asked around for “la perra Boquita” and we found her! You gave her love again, and I recall you even helping her guardian as well by bringing him painkillers to help him with his drug withdrawal. You were a kind, deep-hearted soul and it was always within you to do good for others. This, in my opinion, was what defined you as a citizen of this Earth.

I like to think that you’re still experiencing “life” here with me in some way. I sometimes will do things or see things, for example, that I know you would love. A movie, a fast car, a Border Collie. I have often remarked to my sister “Ben would love to see this”, regretting that you’re not there to share this experience with me. But her response is always “he probably is”, and I hope she is right, acknowledging the possibility that you’re everywhere now, and you have the ability to do anything now, with no barriers to overcome.

In writing this today, I just welcome our memories to permeate through my soul and to acknowledge your life here on Earth, in a place where your presence may only be seen now perhaps in the rustling of the trees or the whistling of the wind. Today I honour you, Ben: the experiences you lived, the joy and pain you felt, and the person you were. Happy Birthday, my soul mate. xoxo

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Birthday celebration in the Caribbean ocean.

Birthday celebration in the Caribbean ocean.

Happy 45th

10 Apr

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Dear Ben,

Happy Birthday!! You would have been 45 today. Hard to believe! I remember you couldn’t believe it that you had even reached your forties, as the thought of “getting old” was paradoxical to you. You always defied your age with your youthful looks and demeanor and will be now forever young until eternity.

Not just today, but often I think about the person you were throughout your rich and varied life, and the many different experiences that you encountered in just over two decades – more than some people have in a long lifetime. So many stories you told me from the years before I knew you, and the weaving of all those varied experiences together formed you into the person you were when I met you, with still room to grow.

I think about how unfailing cute you were when you were a little boy. This is when you began to carve out your independence that served as the building blocks for the capable man you were to become. Camping out for days at a time in the forest alone with only your dog Mandy as company, and driving your dad’s car (usually supervised) when you were only 8 years old! Yes, your hamster Champ used to have little seizures that would knock him out comatose, and once when this happened, you took it upon yourself, at 8 years old, to take the car and drive it on your own for the 20 minutes into town to rush him to the vet. Then again, guessing from the speed that you liked to drive, maybe it took you a lot less time to get there!

You were so cute, and I admire your childhood photos gleaming with energy from your smiling face and long-lashed eyes. You were full of fire and a sense of adventure that followed you into your teenaged and adult years to come.

When you were a teenager, you joined the regular forces of the Canadian Air Force, with the goal of becoming a doctor. I’m not sure if this is where your love for airplanes was born, but that ardent passion certainly followed you into adulthood when you would watch in awe at anything with a motor that flew. Had you not blown out your eardrum while diving for golf balls in a lake when you were a child, you would have become a pilot. Your next option in the military was considered, to become an MP (military police), but you instead heeded your father’s advice at that time to not take on the role of an instigator, and instead strove to help people in a more compassionate way.

You loved your time in the military and I know this could have been a life long career for you had you not been discharged because of your ensuing illness. The order, discipline, sense of pride and productivity drove your passion to excel. Lieutenant Bateman, I know you could have been Doctor Colonel Bateman if you had continued on that path! You had all the aptitude necessary to make it there. And on a side note, thank you for always polishing my army boots when I asked. I miss having my pristine boots that I can see my reflection in. You were always the example to follow amongst your comrades, and I deciphered this knowledge from the many stories that you shared with me about this meaningful and memorable part of your life.

Despite your illness forcing you on a different path at that time, your life took you in further fulfilling directions. So many I could write about, but maybe I’ll get to more of them next year. I feel that so many experiences and accomplishments were packed into the first 30 years of your life because God knew that those years were the only opportunity to get it all in. It is this example that continues to feed my own life mantra: to live life to the fullest, while you can. You did that for many years, despite believing you were invincible. The irony is that you weren’t, and it at least somewhat fulfills me to know that you experienced many rewarding moments in your life. And when I knew you, it was my utmost goal to keep you “living” and continuing to try to live life to the fullest.

We had many good times, amongst the pain. Many laughs, adventures, revelations, and sharing deep thoughts, aspirations, and an impenetrable bond. These memories are frozen in time, and you will remain forever young.

Another cycle around the sun – Happy Birthday, Ben.

10 Apr

A small slice of your life.

A small slice of your life.

Dear Benjamin,

It’s your birthday today!

April 10th will always be a very special day for me, for it marks the date that a very special person came into this world: you. You would have been 44 years old today, an age that is considered “middle” aged by most peoples’ standards, but not by your own life experience. I will always believe that your time here on earth was too short, that you were taken away far too early, and while that is not something that I wish to celebrate, what I do want to celebrate is the fact that you did exist here on this earth, and that you did make a mark on this planet in your nearly 42 years here. People appreciated you and loved you, and I know you made a difference in many peoples’ lives. I know that now because since you’ve been gone, so many of your old friends have reached out to me to convey to me the special place that you held in their life – and for that, I am grateful.

What I know is that you would want that. You would want to know that your existence made a difference. You always wanted to be acknowledged for your achievements, and I can understand that if you didn’t have at least that, now that you’re gone, that you would have no “legacy” to leave behind. We all wish to know that we’ve made an imprint on this world, and a positive one at that.

You did accomplish so much in your short life, even though you were sick during half of it, so do be proud of that. I know you continually judged your worth by the occupations that you had, and there were definitely many of those! Of the top of my head, I can say that at certain times in your life, you were: a ski patroller, a paramedic, a butcher, an Air Force officer, a military doctor’s assistant, a medic, a police officer, an autopsy assistant, a hospital lab tech, a security guard, and a security consultant. There could be more! (but that’s all I can think of for now)

During the time I knew you, you felt defeated because you could no longer push on at these “jobs” that made you feel important and useful in life. But I always tried to tell you that who you are as a person is not defined by the work that you get paid to do for a living. Who you are is defined by your character and your values, and what you stand for in life. I always saw so much potential in you to live out your true self to the fullest. It saddens me that there always seemed to be so many obstacles getting in the way for you. I tried to help you get past them, but it was just so overwhelming for one sick person and one healthy person to overcome. I do believe, though, that I did help at least somewhat.

For the past 2 years, I often think back to your life experiences, as I shared them with you. I would rather concentrate on the good than the bad, and this is why I tried to make many good memories for us in spite of all the hardships. It is more fruitful for one’s psyche to contemplate on the positive, but I didn’t do it just for myself. I was always thinking of the “memories” that you would be left with once you left from this earth, and I don’t know how that works at all, but I think that you must have some kind of memory now of what your Earth-bound life was like, and I truly hope that you are at peace with this. I want you to be happy, as always. I still think of your well-being, even though I know I can no longer carry responsibility for it.

You are so special and you will live on in me forever. Today is a day to be happy that you were born. You were born for a reason; you made an impact on me, and many others. I honestly can’t imagine a life in which I never knew you. Happy Birthday, Ben!