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I met Sean in 2005. We church hunted in late 2007 knowing I would be moving up to finish school in 2008. We agreed on the second church we visited, Grace Baptist.
We met lots of people there. I remember how hard it was to keep track of everyone in the beginning; the young adult ministry was booming! Three guys in particular I remembered their names because I remembered them as "the bearded guys."
One of those guys was Ben.
|On the way to AT Days 2012|
When we joined small groups, Sean ended up in the same group as Ben and they became friends. Any friend of Sean's is a friend of mine, and vice versa.
Later, when our pastor decided to try an accountability type setup called "running partners," Sean and Ben were paired together. This certainly grew their relationship, and when Sean & I were engaged late in 2008, Sean asked Ben to be a groomsman.
|That would be Ben's car|
Appalachian Trail Days was just a few weeks before our wedding in 2010. A team of nine of us went down that year, including Ben. Sadly, he was injured at the end of the trip and unable to participate on our big day.
|Ben is in the back with the bandanna.|
Even though we saw much less of Ben after this, we always kept in touch and were able to get together every so often. He was still Ben. He loved TobyMac, video games, superhero movies, animals (especially his Border Collie, Sarah), and our Lord. We missed him when we went to Trail Days in 2011, but were thrilled to have him back in 2012.
What a great "Ben" memory: Sean is holding something in that pic - a chick he and Ben worked together to win for me in an effort to win me a bunny at probably the most inhumane carnival gave I've ever seen. We pretty quickly realized we didn't have the means to raise a chicken, but we knew returning it to this awful game was certain death, so we named him Chuck and brought him on our road trip home with plans to re-home him (or her, we never found out, but s/he was quickly given a proper home!)
A few months after Trail Days, the text came. Ben was ill. He would need some light chemo and a bone marrow transplant. It was sad but we were all confident he would go through his treatment and we would have our Ben back.
|Told you he loves animals|
That text was last November, and it's been a roller coaster ever since. Days of promise and days of fear.
Now, almost a year later, Friday, November 1 (just shy of his 35th birthday) became a day of peace for Ben as his earthly suffering ended and he joined his Heavenly Father. Yes, it's sad, and we miss him, but where he is now is so much better. Better than the illness that became leukemia. Better than his healthier days. Even better than Trail Days.
As another friend from Grace pointed out:
"Today I mourn the death of my friend Ben ..., but take comfort in the fact that I 'do not grieve as those who have no hope.'"