Dear Ben, On Your 13th Year – Kelly


I look at this photo a lot.  You were 11 when it was taken.  

I love this photo because you are talking to your dad.  I hate this photo because it depicts the reality that we never got to meet. 

When I met your dad and heard he had kids, admittedly, I was nervous.  A long time ago I went through a relationship that ended with someone who has kids.  That person had a daughter; her name was Maddy (weird, right?).  When it ended it was terrible on my heart and soul.  I didn’t want to experience that kind of loss again and didn’t want to have anyone try to explain the end of relationship to you guys like we had to do for Maddy.  

Between you and me, I told myself, “hey, don’t eff this up, these kids are important people.” 

Sweet Ben, I never met you and oh my god how I miss you.  

Do you know how important you are?  

You made such an impact on the lives of so many people and you were only TWELVE when you left us.  The amount of love, kindness and compassion I’ve felt JUST BECAUSE OF YOU, takes a lifetime for most people to understand and express.  

Do you know that?  


Sweet Ben, your dad hurts and aches for you in a way I cannot describe.  He talked about you so much when we first met.  He longed for your relationship and was heartbroken you stopped talking to him.  We talked about when and how you’d come around and what that would be like.  

Between you and me, I thought I could help build a bridge. I never wanted to get in the way of your parents, your siblings, or anything…I just had this feeling you and I would have been able to “get” each other.  

Do you know what this feels like?  I have no analogy because it’s not analogous to anything.  

You and your dad weren’t talking, and then you died.  

There is no hope anymore.  You aren’t coming back and you can’t talk to him.  Ever.  

He tells me stories about you, you know.  He tells me over and over again.  It literally takes my breath away and squeezes my throat knowing you two don’t get to make anymore memories together.  

Your dad is on a merry-go-round of memories and he can’t get off of it.  

I can find nothing worthy of honoring you and your greatness because your greatness exceeds this earthly place.  Anything I’ve tried to plan to celebrate you this September 10th will do nothing but dump salt in a gaping hemorrhaging wound I’m trying to keep clean and void of infection; let your dad do the healing on his own.  

He’s the only one who can…

We should be planning a birthday party for you.  We should be buying gifts and talking trash to each other about the hawks & broncos.  


My god you would have been thirteen. 

So PROUD your dad is of you.  So. Proud.  

Your dad showed me where you were born.  He told me about when you were born and what it felt like for him, to have a child; to have a son.  

Ben my god I wish you were here.  I wish we got to know each other.  We would have had so much fun; I promise.  I have fun with your cousins now, in case you didn’t know.  They’re so awesome and they miss you so much too.  

My birthday wish for you on this thirteenth year, is that others will practice the kind of love and kindness toward the world that you practiced everyday of your life.  

This year, I hope your Big Ben Bear spirit shines through on the field at the game on Saturday.  

Your dad is coaching now, you know.  

Happy Birthday, Ben.  We love you.  We miss you.  We’re so proud of you.  







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