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Not my pain


The summer after I graduated high school, I was at work (in a bookstore, of course), when a personal call came through for me. I thought the call odd, and answered it, to hear Jenn tell me Ben had died. He was on a plane that had crashed the previous day, wind shears, one survivor, not Ben. Telling me at work seemed smart: I walked into the bathroom, cried for a long while, cleaned up, then went back to work, moving as numbly as I could, just needing something, anything, to keep going.

Ben's funeral wasn't so much of a funeral, there was no body to view, as a memorial. I remember being seeming the only person there crying. I couldn't understand why no one else was crying. Half the people there, and not just the boys, didn't have any evidence of having cried at all. Ben's mom at one point mentioned the graduation gift that was still on Ben's bed, unopened.

No one was crying.

For some of us, it was our first introduction to death, and they weren't crying.

I was confused and even more upset.

Three days ago, we began receiving the emails that, oh, god, none of us ever want to receive.

"... becky brought pro into the hospital yesterday and it doesnt look like he will be leaving this time ..."

"... They have found that the disease has progressed more than they realised and he is not doing well. The doctors have estimated that he has about three days ..."

So, here I am, completely stymied, at a loss.

And crying.

This isn't even my pain, and I'm crying.

Crying, because here's the imminent loss of an amazing person. Someone who is quick with the joke, generous with his time, as intense as needed, and just amazing to boot. He's this amazing person, and he's dying and it isn't fair.

It isn't fair to Becky, who is a wonderful person. It isn't fair to his kids. It isn't fair that someone who is good dies of something as stupid as pancreatic cancer. It's their pain, and I can't stop crying.


It's good to cry. It is a reminder of how unnatural death is, how wrong it is that such a beautiful life should have to end. I didn't cry at Ben's memorial service. I haven't cried often since. But I've always secretly envied those who had tears to cry, and were able to cry them.

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