Here we are again Benny. You on your side, me on mine. I have been sitting here almost a nutcase trying figure out what to say to you. I don’t know why this has been so ridiculously hard to write and I will admit it has taken me WAY longer than just about any other piece I have written.
I talk to you all the time so surely writing you a letter should come just as naturally. ‘Don’t should all over yourself….’ Fine! but you know what I mean.
This is one of only two posts in the year that are 100% dedicated to you. I feel pressure. All I want is to at least have something interesting to say, something memorable but nothing was coming to me. I heard the voice in my head scoff and say, ‘ Ppfftt… and you call yourself a writer…’
‘Oh Shut UP!’ I retorted angrily, or words to that effect.
When I did my Vision Quest in October 2020, one of the first things they spoke about was expectations. We enter this new space having heard or read something about Quest but the words never fully convey the experience. No one writes or speaks about the total quest experience for this reason. None the less, it leaves those who enter for the first time with expectations that ‘it’ will be a certain way or that we will feel a certain thing.
I was guilty of this myself and it became evident around day three of solitude when I decided ‘it’ wasn’t working and I was frustrated and annoyed. I wasn’t getting the marching band or the visions of angels with trumpets and so concluded that it hadn’t worked or something was wrong. It would later be proven that my thinking couldn’t have been further from the truth.
The problem is not with expectations themselves but the fact that they come with judgements. We make judgements on our own experience based on a partial account of someone else’s experience. I expected bands and angels and when they didn’t come, I made a judgement.
I realise now many hours after starting this, that I entered this post with the same attitude. I have been trying to force brilliant words that just didn’t sit well. I have been creating witty paragraphs that inevitably got deleted an hour later.
Ben, when you left, I was shattered. I had no point of reference to make sense of what I was feeling never mind where I was at or where the hell I would go from there. I scoured books and wanted to find out as much as I could from the accounts of others. Initially this was extremely UNhelpful as once again it came with judgements. In X amount of time I should be at Y stage.
Later on the books gave me the information I wanted as it validated what I had already come to know. It was now MY experience and only then did it come with no judgement.
I hope now that I can draw a connection between what I am writing and what I actually wanted to tell you today.
My initial idea was to share stories of where I was, at 19, and how our lives are so different. I wanted to tell you what I was doing and what I thought I knew back then. The more I wrote the more stupid it sounded and the more I ripped it apart.
I even found a street view picture of the first flat I lived in when I was 17 and moved out of home. I tried to draw a line between my life then and what your life might have been today. There is no line Benny. There is no similarity.
The point of this post is to honour you on what would have been your birth day. This week you would have celebrated 19 years on earth and I felt like I should make a big deal of it. But the more I tried, the less right it felt.
Even writing it sounded ridiculous and I questioned why that was also a thing for me. My mind desperate for answers jumped to any possible explanation which came with unlikely conclusions and even more judgements.
My first real job was with the Australia Customs Service or as it is called today Border Control. After 21 years and mostly working in investigative roles and Intelligence, I am wired to look for things that don’t fit and I question almost everything.
It seems some things don’t need to be questioned. It’s okay to simply accept them as what is. Sometimes we don’t get answers and we need to be okay with that. We need to accept that every circumstance is part of the bigger picture, some of which we may never see.
We have a strange relationship you and I. I miss you more than I thought was possible. This hasn’t changed since day one. And yet sometimes when I am working or even speaking to people, it feels like you are sitting right next to me.
I sense that the veil between us is so very thin and I am at times overwhelmed and energised that we have found a way to somehow work together. Perhaps I am your conduit, perhaps you are my inspiration. I don’t know and the answer doesn’t matter.
I think about who you were then and I feel like it’s so far from who and where you are today. I know it’s something I will only fully understand and appreciate when we meet again. And Benny, get ready cos I can’t wait! 💙
Until then, I know I have work to do. I am reminded of the following:
We hadn’t talked much about what you would do when you left school. I guess you still had nearly 3 years left. You did share with me your desire to specialise in something that was connected to sport and helping people at the same time.
Remember the joke we had about you opening your own sports physio business where you would also treat footie players. I said I could be your receptionist and you said, ‘Cool, I won’t need to pay you cos your my mum!’
I look at the impact you have made on people’s lives you have come in contact with and how you are remembered today. I think about the people who live today because of your gift though organ donation. It feels surreal.
Time goes by Benny and as it does, things change. There is not a day that passes that I don’t think of you, but it is different to how it was a few short years ago. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and also another lifetime. I guess I am different today. Everything is different today. My expectations are different today.
I spend my days building a business around communication – Speaking and Writing and you are a part of everything I do. You have given me the drive, the need to make a difference. I want to inspire and to empower people. My ulterior motive is transparent. I want to keep your name alive and continue your legacy of giving, loving and uplifting others.
I talk to people about their losses and sometimes share my story. It’s a strange but beautiful thing that happens when I hear a persons voice soften as I ask, ‘what is your son/daughter/person’s name?’ And I LOVE hearing your name spoken out loud too.
So, what can I tell you that you don’t already know? Probably not much.
If my time was up and I had to leave a message, what would I say? Perhaps it would include the following.
- I am grateful for every experience I have had in my life, the good the bad and the ugly. They have made me who I am today. I have learned to embrace (not run from) the challenges and this has made all the difference.
- I know that life is precious and how we spend our time here is both the key and the game changer. The clock ticks whether we are aware or not, whether we are deliberate or not.
- Your stuff-ups are never time wasted. They are all learning opportunities. Remember Edison and his persistence in never giving up on inventing the lightbulb?
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
- Having regrets is futile, so I don’t have any. Ctrl-Alt-Del and start again as often as you need to. Every minute, every hour, every day, if necessary. You are awesome!
I have always believed you would change the world Benny. Today I see how you do it – one life at a time.
I am honoured to be part of your team Benny Boo and I look forward to our next year ahead. We have a lot to do and a lot more lives to change.
In my heart, I know now and will always know you never left me. You will always be – FOREVER BEN SHAW.
You are in my thoughts this week gorgeous boy, as you always are. I love you now and forever …
So much love
Mum xx 💙