Tribute to my brother, Benjamin

My blog has hosted too many tributes to loved ones. But I now have another one to post. Today, it’s been exactly one week, since I saw my brother, Benjamin, for the last time. He was very special and I’ve written a very long tribute this time.

Me and my baby brother
Me and Baby Ben

I was 19 months old when Benj (as I continue to affectionately call him, even though he preferred to be called Ben) was born. Obviously, I can’t remember life without him. That is until one week ago, when I watched Benj breath his last. I think Benj may have learned to talk before I did. Not really, but I can’t remember when Benj couldn’t talk. He definitely learned to talk better than I did. He would disagree with me, but this time, I get the last word. He would say that when it was just family that he couldn’t get a word in edgewise, because nobody could shut me up. I suppose it’s true. But Benj was the one who was so friendly to everybody around him. Everybody loved Benj. There was no stranger to Benj. He loved meeting new people. He talked to everybody. I was the shy homebody; Benj was the friendly traveler.

My brother and my husband
Ben and my husband at our wedding

Let me tell you how it went. I would go to camp meeting and sit in one of the kids’ meetings toward the back, and somebody would come up to me and put their hand out and say “Hi, I’m so-and-so. Aren’t you Benji’s sister?” (Benji is what we called him in those days.) I would kind of sigh, and say, “Yes, I’m Rhonda.” I wished people would get to know me just as Rhonda, not as Benji’s sister. I mean what older sister wants to be in her brother’s shadow? It even got worse, as I hit my teens. Young men, who would want to get to know me, would come to introduce themselves to me. But even they would always say something like, “Hi I’m Mr. Macho, aren’t you Benji’s sister?” Even my husband was friends with Benj before making my acquaintance. (Ahem, but I went to him and introduced myself as Benji’s sister to try to start a conversation.) I’m very thankful that my husband got to be there with Benj those last few hours of life. They were always close friends. In fact, Benj was disgusted with me for taking Nathan away from him. He said, “I got Nathan to move here because I needed a friend and now he’s spending all his time with Rhonda.” So I owe a big thank-you to Benj for getting to know the right guy for me.

Brother and wife
Ben and Silke

As I said, Benj was the friendly traveler. He may have found my man for me and brought him to our home so that I didn’t have to venture far, but he travelled the world over to find his wife. He met his wife, a beautiful German, in Sweden. They both loved about each other that they were both friendly and adventurous. They made lots of long distance flights and even more long distance phone calls before INS finally agreed that she could have her visa and they married on June 23, 2002. While I give tribute to Benj, I also have to give tribute to Silke. Benj married the most amazing woman. In spite of the fact, that most of their married life, Ben’s health was declining and declining, she not only stuck by his side, she loved him. I remember one day, when I was visiting Benj in the hospital a couple of years ago (when he nearly bled to death), and Silke had gone home to get a shower or something and then she walked back into the room. I will never forget how her face lit up to see Benj. I could see all over her face how much she loved him. Benj’s face lit up to. She was the love of his life. It was her love that kept him going for the last few years. I could see it. Silke always believed in Benj. She always did everything she could to brighten his life. She was his constant caregiver for the last few years, which ended up being a very big task, and through it all her love for him didn’t diminish, it grew. I have learned what true love is by watching Benj and Silke. Love is a lot more than a feeling. Love is a principle and Silke is a living example of that. After Benj passed away last Tuesday night, Silke broke down and cried, “It feels like half of me has died.” I replied, “That’s why they call them the better half.” She sobbed out “Benji was my better half.” Silke taught me what true love is. Benj did too. In spite of his miserable condition, when he was about to be intubated and there was some fear written on his face, Benj wasn’t thinking about himself. His first thought was of Silke. Benj’s last words before being intubated, after we had said three prayers for him, were “Mom, can you pray for Silke?” She did. I’ll always pray for Silke and she’ll always be my sister, no matter what her future holds. (I love you, Silke!)

Baby Sister's Graveside Flowers
Me and Ben and our dog with Wendy's graveside flowers on what would have been her first birthday.

Besides loving to talk, Benj loved speed. As we grew up, Benj was usually braver than me. He said at my wedding that, I could climb trees higher than he could. Well maybe, but let me tell you, he could go a lot faster than I could. He could ride his motorcycle faster than I could. He could ski better and faster than I could. (Do you know that he even taught me how to ski down stairs? He couldn’t wait for winter to roll around so he started skiing down the stairs in our house. Crazy kid! One of his famous quotes from when he was about six was “I know everything there is to know about skiing except turning and stopping!”) He would drive his car faster than I would even consider. I was always just a little afraid of all that speed stuff.  Try as I may, I couldn’t keep up with him either on skis or motorcycles. He could play baseball and volleyball better than I dreamed of being able to. Maybe it’s because he was a boy! He loved to live life to the fullest and he was so coordinated. Before he could swim, he would do back flips off of the diving board. Then he would doggy paddle to the edge. It was impressive. That’s one reason, why it was so hard for me when Benj ended up in a wheelchair in 2006. I just didn’t think it was right for somebody who was so coordinated and who loved speed like he did, to end up in a wheelchair. It seemed like I should be the one in the wheelchair, carefully moving along. One time, I talked to Benj about it. I said something like, do you miss all of those fun times that we used to have as kids? He replied with a well thought out answer, “No. I’m just thankful that I did get to have those experiences. Our own little sister, Wendy, never got to do anything like that.” I looked at him and realized that I had a lot to learn from Benj. Benj and I lost a little sister in infancy when we were six and eight respectively. Rather than feeling sorry for himself, he was being thankful that he had it better than she did. Benj just wasn’t a complainer. He was always thankful that it wasn’t worse. I hope that I can somehow inherit that trait from Benj. It’s a lovely trait to have.

My family
My amazing family

Benj and I shared many wonderful blessings with each other. We had the most wonderful parents (now the most bereaved) in the world. We considered ourselves the luckiest kids on the planet. We also gained two younger brothers and a younger sister (besides the one that passed away) that we both did our best to raise! (Just ask them!) We were the happiest family you can imagine. I don’t know if I mentioned how much Benj liked to talk and that I finally opened up when it was just family, but you should have joined us at the breakfast table. My dad used to say that he was going to make a reality show out of us. It was a riot. Benj had an awesome sense of humor and so do our brothers and our dad. My mom was the best cook and she can make vegan waffles like you can’t believe. When Ben developed allergies, she figured out how to make them for him too, so he never missed out on her wonderful cooking. We would all sit around the table and relish that delicious food and talk and laugh and just enjoy each other so much. Every time, since I’ve been married, when we would visit my family, mom would make one of her famous breakfasts and it was like old times. We would tell stories and laugh and make some of the best memories ever. I’ll never forget those times around the table. And when we get together again, it won’t be the same without Ben’s stories and wise cracks. I’ll miss his comments so much. He always brought so much life to the party.

Me and my brother enjoying supper
Ben making me laugh during supper

Benj also loved to talk to his Heavenly Father. I remember thinking as a teen that he was sure a lot more faithful about having his morning devotions than I was. It’s a good thing that he developed that enduring relationship with the Lord. It took that to get through the last several years of his life and be the amazing example of Christianity to everybody around him that he was. Benj knew Jesus like a friend. He shared in sufferings with his Lord. He knew that he could turn to the Lord for strength and comfort. That is why he was able to be an encouragement to the rest of us, because he had been talking to and leaning on his Heavenly Father.

Son and his uncle
Ben telling my son a story

Did I mention that Benj loved to talk? Of all of my siblings, he has been the most faithful at calling me. There were times when he was bored, that he would call us every day, sometimes multiple times in a day. My kids loved to talk to Uncle Ben on the phone. Their faces always lit up, when he called. They loved their Uncle Ben deeply. And I will have ringing through my ears for a long time their constant prayer that they each prayed every morning and every evening for most of their young lives, “Dear Jesus, Please help Uncle Ben get better.” Even this morning, my five-year-old slipped into habit and prayed that prayer again. I don’t know why the Lord chose to answer their prayers the way He did, but I know that I can trust Him. After all, Benj was at peace with his fate. Now, I’m praying earnestly for my young children, to not lose that faith of a child through this experience. I have to say though, I would give anything right now to hear the phone ring and know that it was Ben on the other end. I would love to talk to him about his plans to go on to law school. That’s what our last several conversations were about. You see, Benj had returned to college a while ago and he had just received his diploma in the mail from the University of Phoenix on Friday, the day before he went into the hospital (four days before he passed away.) With an amazing amount of determination, he had finished his associate degree in business, while spending the last nine months of his life flat on his stomach. Benj’s optimism never died until he did. Same with his determination. He always planned on getting well. His cheerfulness never waned, when the rest of us were crying and worrying about him, he would cheer us up. That seems ironic, but that’s how it went. Benj’s hope for healing never diminished. He always was seeking new treatment methods both natural and traditional that would cure him. But through it all, Benj did not fight his fate either. He told Silke just before getting intubated, that if it was God’s will for him to go now, he was ready.

Benj longed to go back to the mission fields. He and Silke dreamed of being missionaries in Africa. That, in spite of the fact, that many doctors believed that his health condition was due to a disease that he had contracted as a student missionary in Ghana called Schistosomiasis. Benj would have made a great foreign missionary, because of his and Silke’s love to travel and because he was so friendly and everybody loved him. But that was evidently not the mission field that was chosen for Benj. I do believe however, that Benj has touched more lives than any of us will know in this world. I know that way too many people have to suffer in this world. And I hope that whenever any cross my path, that I can share about Benj’s life and it will cheer them and make them determine to be ready. I know many have already met Benj and their lives have been changed because of his cheerfulness. You know, one day, somebody told Benj, “If you just had more faith, you would be healed.” Benj told me about it a few weeks ago. It hurt him to be told that. He said to me, “You know, it takes more faith to keep believing, when you’re not healed than it does to be healed. Being healed is the easy route.” I said, “Did you make that reply to the person who said that to you?” He said, “No. He doesn’t know any better.” Benj knew better though, by first hand experience. And he taught me a lot in that one conversation. As I mentioned, he learned how to talk better than me. He clearly learned how to not talk better than me too. He tried his best to be kind to others, even when he was sick. I also learned a lot about faith from that one comment. I’ve been thinking about it now for eight weeks or so. I hope that I can always show sympathy to those who are suffering. Ben is not the first one in this world who had a strong faith in God, but was not miraculously healed or saved. There was John the Baptist, Elisha, Jesus, John Huss, Henry White, Annie Smith, just to name a few.

Ben’s final days were an exhausting ordeal. I went to sit with Benj at his house on Sabbath evening, because he had had a temp of over 105°F and Silke was trying to figure what to do. I talked to Benj. I thought he was talking to me, but he was so tired, that he said very little. He was a bit delirious too, but when Silke couldn’t remember the doctor’s phone number, Benj told it to her. When the ambulance picked up Benj, they were unbelievably rough with him. I ran out of the room crying, because it was so horrible to watch. Benj never complained, about their treatment, in spite of the fact that he had asked Silke not to call the ambulance.

Before Benj got intubated on Sunday morning, he looked at me and he said, “I don’t know when I’ll be able to talk again.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well they’re going to stick this pipe down my throat, so I can’t talk while it’s there. And who knows when it’s going to come out.” I realized, that he was really dreading that aspect. After he had been intubated for about a day, and my mom told him that they would soon take it out, he raised his eyebrows to show his excitement. He had managed to communicate with us with nodding his head and pointing at things with his hands and even typing on his iPad, while he was intubated. We thought Ben was going to come out of this, because he was doing so well, when they extubated him, but unfortunately about an hour after that, he took a turn for the worse. After Benj was extubated, he could barely speak. He tried, but he was very hard to understand. Basically the last thing he said was “another song.” The doctors thought Benj had no more than a couple of hours to live at that point, so we started singing and we kept singing, and singing, and singing. We sang all night long. As long as we sang, Ben’s stats looked stable, so we kept on singing. He went for over twenty-four hours after those two hours were up. That night there were two doctors that thought so much of Benj that they stayed and sang with us all night too. It was very special to me to see again, how people loved Benj, because of his friendliness and optimism and cheerfulness and his genuine Christianity. People who didn’t even know Benj when he was a healthy young man, but who knew that he was one special young man. One of the doctors said, the problem is that Benj always wants to hear the next song. Even the nursing director, who is my mother’s boss, told her that whenever he walked past Ben’s room he could just feel the grace coming out of the room. See Ben kept on touching people’s lives to the last minute and I believe it will continue in his death. Tuesday, seemed like it took forever as Benj struggled on for life. It seemed like he died three times, but two of the times he came back. The first time, he didn’t breath for minutes, and his heart flat lined. We all started crying, or make that weeping. My son went and found my phone and then called my husband to say that Uncle Ben had died. Then I took the phone to talk to my husband, but then my son came running out into the hall and said, “Mom, he’s alive again.” My eight-year-old son told the chaplain, maybe he’s going to be like Lazarus. Then that repeated itself in about an hour. That was very draining. I don’t know why it happened. I asked the doctors and they’d never seen anything like it. Finally Tuesday evening rolled around, by that time my husband had driven back over. I went and picked up my three youngest kids from where some friends were keeping them and we went back to the hospital. We were all sitting around trying to figure how to get sleep—who would stay, who would go home—because we had all gone at least one night without sleep and some had gone three nights without sleep. We were getting the impression that Benj was going to keep fighting for days. I asked if we could have family worship together before everybody headed off to different waiting rooms and places to sleep, so we gathered around Benj’s bed. The whole family, minus my oldest daughter, was there, as well as a very dear physician friend of Ben. (I feel very much closer to Ben’s physician friends as well as his pastor, now too, after spending those very emotional times with them. They are all very special people and were so kind to us and to Ben in those final days.) My husband said a prayer, then my brother, Joe, shared a few thoughts about sheep and the Shepherd from Psalm 23 and John 10. Then we sang Benj’s favorite song, “I Will Follow Thee My Savior”. While we were singing tears started running down Benj’s cheeks. Mom and Silke stood there and wiped them away, while the tears ran down their own cheeks. Then Joe said a closing prayer, which he concluded by saying “Into thy hands we commit his spirit.” With that Benj stopped breathing. The timing was amazing. It’s not like we hadn’t all told Benj throughout the day, that it would be okay to go. I’ve decided that Benj was waiting for the Holy Spirit to tell him that it was time to go. I could feel the presence of the Lord like I’ve never really felt it before. I think that’s why he revived twice, so that he would go like that at the end of family worship and we would all see God’s hand even in his death. Benj had a connection with Jesus, even to the timing of his last breath.

Me and my bro
Ben's and my favorite picture together

I never will get to hear my brother talk again in this life. I’ll miss it so much. I’ll probably go on talking my family members’ ears off. I can get kind of wordy, hence the long tribute. I still expect people to come up to me and say, “Now aren’t you Ben Reeves’ sister.” That will probably happen as long as I live, he had so many friends. Many of the dreams that Benj had, will never be fulfilled. He was only 33 and had the same dreams that every Christian young man has, and that breaks my heart. But his influence will always be felt in my life. And someday, a day that I can’t wait for, I will meet an angel in heaven, or somebody from another planet, and he’ll say to me, “I think I know you. Aren’t you Ben’s sister?” I’ll know Ben will have been around making friends much faster than me. And I’ll proudly reply, “Indeed, I am Ben’s sister!” I plan to spend much of eternity trying to catch up with him, perhaps not on motorcycles or skis, perhaps on wings. For sure he’ll be running there; he’s been looking forward to that for a long time. And I will continue to meet people that Ben’s already made friends with and when they ask, I’ll be thrilled to just be Ben’s sister, otherwise known as Rhonda.

28 thoughts on “Tribute to my brother, Benjamin

  • July 19, 2011 at 5:14 pm
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    Rhonda, What a precious tribute! I’ll definitely have to agree with you that even though you might think that you were cheering him up, you would indeed be the one who was cheered by visiting with Ben! I feel so blessed to have gotten to know him the little that I did! I have shed some more tears reading this. Sometimes I wonder if my tears will ever stop, but I know that someday soon all tears will be wiped away and there will be no more suffering, sorrow, sickness or death! What a day that will be! I also agree with you that Silke has been a most precious wife and friend who has suffered by his side, right along with him, all these years! She is an extraordinary girl, to be sure. I truly believe that suffering is somehow necessary to get us ready for heaven and Ben had surely allowed the suffering that he endured constantly to make him into a person who was ready to meet His Saviour. The next thing that he will see is the face of Jesus calling him forth at His second coming! I feel just as surely that my mother will be there right with him! She loved Ben, as well, and was impressed with his courageous spirit! God be with you all as you face each day without him. He would want you to look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh! It’s not easy, but life goes on. We have many precious memories of our loved ones that no one can take from us. Our love and prayers are with you, Yvonne

  • July 19, 2011 at 6:30 pm
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    Rhonda,
    That was such a beautiful tribute, he was so blessed to have you for a sister.
    Tracy

  • July 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm
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    Dear Rhonda,

    What a precious tribute to Ben! I so look forward to seeing his smile again when Jesus comes! Oh, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

  • July 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm
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    What a beautiful tribute to your loving brother. Ben was a blessing to all who knew him and gave of himself much. You will always have Ben by your side, always in your heart and memories. What a fine young man. Sending love to you and your family.

  • July 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm
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    Rhonda,

    I enjoyed so much reading your tribute to Ben. It’s been over 13 years since I saw your brother last, but I have some great memories that include your brother during the summer I spent with your family in ’96 and during the three weeks I spent in Africa while he was there. I still think of him as Benj or Benji, too. Your tribute makes this loss so much more real for me. Lots of prayers for your family. I wish I could attend the memorial. I will be thinking of all of you!!

    Stephanie

  • July 19, 2011 at 8:57 pm
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    Rhonda, I am sitting here crying as I read your tribute and what a moving expose` of Ben’s life. We will always cherish it and wish we had known him better. We do so look forward to meeting him in heaven, as well as you and the rest of the family. We love you all.

  • July 19, 2011 at 8:58 pm
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    Oh Rhonda, what a touching tribute. Thank you so much for sharing! I laughed through some of it and I cried through a lot of it- especially the end. I must say that I do think I met him before I met you. He was so friendly that Hope International Campmeeting in ’89. I remember we knew your cousins and I was telling Benji that we were related to Jana. (Well, kinda distant- dad’s cousin is married to her aunt). Benji said, “Well, if you’re related to her then you’re related to me!” I did first know you as Benji’s sister but quickly I knew you and loved you as “Rhonda”. I feel badly that I haven’t been out to your neck of the woods in so long. Kirsten was about 3 when I visited you last and I never saw Benji after he got sick. But reading the tributes and posts I’ve been so amazed at his incredible life and testimony even-or maybe especially- in his sickness. I know it won’t be very long before you can have a lengthy conversation with him. Jesus must be coming soon. I would love to come out for his memorial. I start school 2 days later so I probably can’t swing it and I’m sure there will be a lot of people. But one day I do want to come and visit you. I know that the coming days and weeks will be especially hard and holidays too when he is missing. My heart aches for your family. Yours is such a family of faith. I felt that way years ago when I would visit- and I had so much fun visiting- but I still know that now- just reading all of your posts. Thank you for letting God shine through- even amidst such an incredibly painful trial.
    I love you!
    Amy

  • July 19, 2011 at 9:35 pm
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    more than an amazing testimony of love and faith, God’s awesome miracle!
    I was hooked reading this tribute with awe and wonder. I wish I’m reading this not from mobile phone, but I’ll keep reading it again and again coz it brought much comfort and hope to me. I’m planning to print it so I could read it to ate Leah. I won’t pretend that I fully understood what you’ve gone through, but somehow I can relate. It’s been almost four months since my younger brother Ben Jathniel passed away, and the fact that he’s the closest brother to me (in terms of bonding, I took care of him since he was a baby). But I failed to take care of him during his unexpected severe illness due to my schooling, simultaneous with ate Leah’s hospitalization. I can join the bereaved family in prayers and aspire more to meet him in heaven with my brother BJ.

    I somehow have a foretaste of grievances from a great loss of an awesome brother and a grave dilemma of losing a sick sibling,but God is still too wise to be mistaken

  • July 19, 2011 at 9:53 pm
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    I am not trying to influence you about Pre-Paid Legal. That’s just my only website address. Anyway, I just wanted to say what a lovely tribute you gave your brother. It was very touching. He would have been very proud. You said that he had a better way with words (not in those words…), but you very clearly described your wonderful relationship and his faith. I’m glad the tribute was not any shorter. You would have left out important things that needed to be said. When people are very sick, they can have a great deal of impact in lives they come in contact with. Your brother’s sickness didn’t cause him inward bitterness; he used his relationship with his Master to bless others. I’m sure you’re right; his story will continue to bless others. I’m glad you wrote this because I was curious of how his last few years have been. I haven’t seen your family for so long. I’m glad everyone was able to be there at his bedside. You all basically saw him “off.” Not as the world thinks, that he goes to heaven immediately. But in death, there’s no sense of time. When he awakens, it’ll be as if he’s just woken up from a good night’s rest. The next thing he will see is his Maker’s face, and those of his faithful family and friends. So, waiting is hardest on his loved ones. You know as well as I, though, that it’s only a short time and this waiting game will be over. We have a daughter we’ll see on the other side if we’re faithful. She was almost 4 when she died, so we know how hard it is at first to get used to the idea of them being gone. But we have this hope that God will reunite us all when the time is right! So, have faith in God and keep looking up. Time is short. The devil is stepping up his campaign; he’s really hammering our family right now. Please pray for us. Fred is sick today, but that’s not the worst. He’s out of work. We have no unemployment. I’m unemployed. We’re being sued. Etc, etc, etc. That’s just a little about us. No need going on about the negative. So, hang in there. Cry when you need to; it’s one of God’s homemade remedies for stress. But, sing the songs that Benji loved and they’ll help you stay strong. God bless!

  • July 19, 2011 at 9:55 pm
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    Thank you, Rhonda. More tears. More love for you in your loss. Let us all be faithful, no matter what!

    Love,

    Teresa

  • July 20, 2011 at 5:23 am
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    Rhonda, you can call me more now, ok? I would love it. I read this just before falling asleep last night. “Christ will lead His redeemed ones beside the river of life and will explain to the all that perplexed them in this world. The mysteries of grace will unfold before them. Where their finite minds discerned only confusion and broken purposes, they will see the most perfect and beautiful harmony.” – 9T 194. Love you!

  • July 20, 2011 at 6:49 am
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    What a precious tribute to your brother Rhonda. Even though I had never met Ben he obviously was a very special person. I indeed had tears while reading what you wrote and I sincerely appreciate you sharing his love for Christ. It brings desire to do more.

    God Bless you all during this time!
    Angela

  • July 20, 2011 at 7:10 am
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    I am in tears, my heart and prayers go out to you all, joy and peace amid the …..

  • July 20, 2011 at 7:17 am
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    Absolutely amazingly beautiful tribute to such an amazing man. Ben and Silke have brought such peace and inspiration to my husband and to myself. We pray daily for Silke and the rest of the Reeves family. You are all such wonderful people and we are so very grateful to know you. My husband and I pray daily that God can help us to have at the very least half the character Ben and Silke have. we love them dearly.

  • July 20, 2011 at 8:55 am
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    You know, Rhonda, Ben was always “Rhonda’s brother” to me–of course, I met you first.

    This was really touching, especially the end. It brought tears to my eyes, and reminded me of the verse that says, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” We don’t always know if a dead loved one will be in Heaven or not, but in some cases there is just no doubt, and I think Ben is one of those cases. Which gives us all the more motive to make sure that our life is right with God! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • July 20, 2011 at 9:22 am
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    Thanks, Lisa. I’m mighty proud he was my brother too. And, yes, I do have a few friends of my own. I can’t wait for heaven.

  • July 20, 2011 at 9:25 am
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    Will remember you in prayer Marilyn. This world is just not a fair place. I don’t know why we all feel so tempted to love the world. If we just step back and take a good hard look, we realize that there’s nothing lovely about this world. But praise the Lord, there is a much better place in store for us. I can’t wait!

  • July 20, 2011 at 9:27 am
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    I sure would love it if you can come to visit us sometime. That would be super special.

  • July 20, 2011 at 9:30 am
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    I’ve been praying for your family daily, Yvonne. God is faithful. It won’t be long till we’ll be reunited with our loved ones. But it might seem long. I remember that last day that Ben was alive was 24 hours like every other day, but it drug on and on and as we watched him suffer. Now that I look back though, it doesn’t seem as long as it did then. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. I can’t wait for heaven.

  • July 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm
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    Oh Rhonda, this is so touching and so beautiful and brought me to tears several times. Thank you for sharing from your heart. I’m praying that the Lord will continue to strengthen you. Heaven’s going to be the most wonderful place, and it will be cheap enough. ♥

  • July 20, 2011 at 4:34 pm
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    Rhonda,

    I can’t even express what my heart is trying to say. I feel so blessed to have known Benji (yes, that is what I call him and he never told me he didn’t want to be called Benji!).

    Reading your tribute is so hard for me to do. It embodied his spirit so well as well as sprung a lot of memmories I had totally forgotten about. Benji and I were little terrors (in a good way) at CHA. We did everything fast for as long as we could.

    I’m so very blessed to have been able to keep in touch with Benji over the years. My last converstaion with Benji was a good one only a couple of weeks before his passing. After the call as was usually the case I was always surprised at how ecstatic he was about life. He didn’t talk about his limitations; only about all the things he was working on and how great our Lord truly is!

    Benji will be truly missed and I can’t wait to ski across the universe with him!

  • July 20, 2011 at 6:19 pm
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    Rhonda, that’s beautiful. Your love could indeed be felt and I cried reading your post. Who cannot help but do so, it so touches the heart. And I believe God gave you all a gift with the way Ben left you. That truly is something unique… and Ben’s relationship with his Saviour is one we should all crave! I can’t really say more… thanks for sharing!

  • July 21, 2011 at 1:32 am
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    You and all of Benj’s family are in my prayers.
    Jesus cannot come soon enough!

  • July 21, 2011 at 6:24 am
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    Tears! and more tears. Thank you Rhonda for writing. I was so glad to read of how his life was. My Dad was like that. EVERYONE loved him. I think with Benji and my Dad that they knew the Lord so well, that’s what people saw, the Lord. Thanks again for writing, I felt sorta caught up. Life takes us in so many directions, and we can’t stay in close contact with all of our friends the way we will get to in heaven. Can hardly wait for the resurrection!!

  • July 21, 2011 at 9:32 am
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    Rhonda,

    My heart goes out to you. Tears are running down my face reading your tribute to your brother. It absolutely touched my heart as I can feel the deep love of your family in every word you write! He truly was a gift from God to you and your family..and a reflection of God’s love for us and what faith truly looks like. Thank you for sharing your brothers story as even in death he still is touching lives as he did mine this morning reading this!! I am completely humbled and in awe of his amazing spirit and yours as well. You are a truly wonderful sister, mother and wife! May God continue to bless you and your family! Cynthia

  • July 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm
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    Rhonda…I was so sorry to hear about Ben. My heart goes out to all of you. I always admired your family….you were all so close and loving. I always loved Ben…he was a great guy. I’m so glad he kept his faith through all his suffering. I can’t wait for the Lord to come…when we’ll all be reunited again…and there we’ll live in perfect health. Please accept my heartfelt condolences!! Scharon

  • August 5, 2011 at 6:21 pm
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    What a beautiful person your brother was! Thank you for sharing–now I will know just a bit about him first when this friendly looking fellow comes up and starts talking to me in heaven. And I can ask him “Aren’t you Rhonda’s brother?”

    I know Jesus cried at Ben’s death as well. This world is not our home.

    Hugs!

  • September 30, 2011 at 11:04 am
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    I stumbled upon your blog while looking for lapbooks. I have to say that the tribute to your brother was absolutely amazing. What an amazing person he must have been!! Just reading it made me wish I would’ve known him!! I’ve had similar situation with the death of a loved one and I’ve seen God’s hand in it. We did alot of the same things you wrote that your family did. We held prayer,sang,and read the bible to my 48 year old mother as she was preparing for her journey to be with the Father. She always held onto the hope that she could be healed but never lost sight of God’s plan.. She touched so many lives just by the faith she had in Christ. God shows himself so clearly sometimes during times of pain.. He is AMAZING!! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. As my mother used to say “We serve a MIGHTY God”! Beauty out of ashes.. He takes the most unlikely circumstances and makes them beautiful.. Absolutely AMAZING!!

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