In June it will be 5 years since Benny died. He will have been gone as long as he was here. That thought guts me. It had been about 4 years since I had seen a photo of Benny that I had never seen before. And then came Darci.
Darci is the Director of Communications and Marketing for Steele Children’s Research Center/Dept. of Pediatrics. Benny took part in a study after his relapse and that’s how we met Darci.
The bottom right photo was a signature Benny pose. He would move his hands likepincers and make wonk noises. He usually did it when He was feeling selfconcious. Darci made this collage.
Being the lady that she is, Darci emailed me to ask me if I had given permission for Benny’s picture to be part of an art installment at the hospital. I wasn’t sure. I had allowed Benny to be in several photo shoots. I have also given out personal pics of him to groups requesting one for various fundraisers and artworks.
Darci described what Benny was wearing and I knew exactly which shoot it came from. I arranged to come down to the hospital the next day. None of these photos are from the shoot for the picture on display at the hospital.
After Benny’s death I would make at least one trip a month to the hospital with toys for the toy box and to see the fine people who after 2 1/2 years of helping us through the hardest battle of our lives are like family.
I went religiously while it brought me comfort, but when it stopped helping, I stopped going. I hadn’t been back in over a year. I went back knowing that this would probably be the last time.
I could find my way through the parking garage with my eyes closed. I have seen every floor of it. Ridden in both of its elevators. Climbed both sets of stairs. I even got to use the “Doctors Only” exit once or twice.
I know the walk from the parking garage to the side entrance. Benny and Jeremia and later Conrad would take turns at pushing the automatic door button. Walking past the volunteer offices, the gift shop the outpatient pharmacy through billing and up the elevators to the third floor. I honestly cannot count how many times my feet walked that path in the span of the 890 days of Benny’s post-cancer life. The parking garage and path to the elevators haven’t changed but just about everything on the 3rd floor has changed.
Now the hospital is just another painful reminder that change is the nature of life.
So Darci showed me the photo, I bawled, she said she’d try to get me copies and then she showed me some photos she had of Benny and me. Whenever pics were taken we were given a print or a jpeg, but it was always just whichever one they thought was the best. All of the others were forgotten, by me anyway.
Thank you Darci! Thank you for caring about us. You are a wonderful soul. I am thankful to call you my friend.
In 8 separate emails Darci sent me each and every photo she had of Benny on her computer. When I got them I gasped and cried. Derek and I held each other while we looked at them. I forced myself to stop looking halfway through. I wanted to drag it out as long as I could. To see my long lost baby’s face in new ways. Children have lots of firsts that parents rejoice in. When your child has died and you have passed the first anniversary you don’t have anymore firsts. What a horrible thing.
These photos are little treasures for me.