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Alan D Busch

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I Grieve For Ben At My Side (final revision)
by Alan D Busch   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, November 08, 2009
Posted: Saturday, November 07, 2009

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final before submission

I Grieve For Ben at My Side

I devotedly await the impossible.

If only Ben could come crashing through my kitchen door on

his skateboard again, I’d be able to return to my life the

way it once was. Mind you, it was not always pleasant.

I’ve known the agonizing experience of wrestling my 220 lb.

adult son in the throes of diabetic hypoglycemia and the

torment of  bear-hugging him while a grand mal epileptic

seizure ran its course. And I can assure you that combating

the devastating impact of not one but two chronic diseases

in my child’s life is, like his death, an event for which

no parent can adequately prepare himself. My family

experienced both.

The days and years of Ben’s life were few and troubled.

When ten and a half years old, he begrudgingly surrendered

his childhood to the pernicious demands of juvenile diabetes.

Gone were the yesterdays and tomorrows of his childhood.

His hopefulness for a normal future, his expectations of

success and for long life became bleak. Ben acceded to the

basic requirements of diabetic care but insisted he live his

life on his own terms, free to experience each day as if it

were his last. I’ve never known anyone more able to live in

the urgency of the present tense than Ben.

I‘ve never loved anyone more, but Ben and I clashed often. I

feared his diabetes. He largely ignored it. Believe me when I

tell you we did not welcome the additional burden of epilepsy

with which Ben was diagnosed just after his eighteenth


Parental bereavement takes no days off. This year I will   

commemorate the three thousand, two hundred and eighty-

fifth day I have been grieving for Ben. The 24th of Cheshvan,

5761, corresponding to November 22, 2000, the day before

Thanksgiving, was the last day I spoke to him, touched him

and marveled at his gift for living life.

On the eve of Ben’s yahrzeit, I will light a ner neshuma, a

memorial candle, this year for the ninth time, a practice 

I’ve done since Ben’s life ended after twenty-two and a

half years. But as important as I recognize this “light of the

soul” to be for Ben’s aliyah, it does nothing to soothe the pain

of my loss. Maybe it’s unreasonable of me to expect that it

should. There is, after all, no balm for parental grief.

Its pain worsens as the gulf that separates us widens. I

return older each time. Ben remains twenty-two years old as

he was then and will always be. Instead of recalling his

young manhood, I tend now to think of him more and more

as the little boy he once was. He has missed so much of life.

I don’t think any number of yahrzeit candles can illumine the

darkness that shrouds the life of a bereaved parent.

Though of my past, I grieve for Ben at my side one day at a

time, every day of the week, month and year. He must

remain an eternal zikaron, an everlasting remembrance.

That is, I suspect, the way of most, perhaps of all bereaved

parents. Ask any one of us how it works.

“I know what you mean," noted a friend of mine, a fellow

bereaved parent. "It's been 28 years for me. I can't imagine

the days!! Yet I still grieve and always will. I don't want a day

to come when I can't remember her face or things she said

and did.”

Contrary to the well-intentioned but wayward counsel of

some consolers, I don't wish to put Ben’s death behind me. I

hold it in front of my eyes. It neither blinds nor causes me to

stumble. Even though I’ve never put much stock in the old

platitude that “time heals all wounds”, I do worry, however,

that someday Ben’s death will feel more like history than

yesterday’s tragedy. So, I refuse to surrender his memory to

the amnesia of time. Though I believe I did the best I could

for him, I’ve considered the possibility that guilt might be

hiding behind my grief, that somehow I may have failed Ben

in his life.

I think a lot about that. I am, however,
certain of one thing.

My grief, like that of others who have loved and lost their own

Bens, remains my steadfast companion.

So, as I approach the three thousand, two hundred and

eighty-fifth day, I pray Ben that you dwell in the heavens high

enough to see me searching the starry skies for your

passing shadow.

Alan D. Busch











Reader Reviews for "I Grieve For Ben At My Side (final revision)"

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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 1/2/2011
prayers for you and your family,
Reviewed by Eileen Granfors 11/8/2009
I hear you. I understand. Blessings, Eileen
Reviewed by Gita Levy (Reader) 11/7/2009
We pray along with you. This is an amazing piece, I'd write more but who can see past the tears?
May Hashem console you amongst all the mourners of Zion,
all the best,
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