Itâ€™s your birthday again. You would have been 46 today. Since I have known you, April 10th has always been a very special day to me, and I am honouring this day again. The last birthday you celebrated on this Earth was your 41st, and while the time may be swiftly passing, year after year, it is with due consideration that I stop to acknowledge your life and take stock of the Earth-bound years we shared together, and the many before that that I knew much about from all your stories. You cherished the memories of your past, both the good and the bad, and it was important for you to share them.
You were born in 1969. You grew up as a teenager in the 80s, developed as a young man in the 90s, and then a decade after that we finally met when you spent the final chapter of your life with me. Between all those years, you led a packed life of adventure, achievement, love, sorrow, struggle, pain, introspection, enlightenment, and many fun times as well, filled with laughter and good humour. I have to say that you also experienced all those sensations even in the short four-and-a-half years that we were together. Those years were nothing if not crazy active and emotionally provocative. It was a roller coaster ride â€“ many ups and downs.
You almost made it until you were 42, and since then I still try to hold on to the memories that we shared. My memory of details in the past is bad, though, but fortunately I have many photographs that document our journey together to bring those memories back to life in my mind, as well as here, in words. And perhaps it is a good thing as well that all of those photographs depict the positive experiences we shared!
When I think of your birthday, for example, April 10th, 2009 comes to mind. That was the year we went on a cruise for your 40th birthday. I knew we would be on the island of Dominica in the Southern Caribbean on April 10th, so I gifted you with an adventure I knew you would love: tubing down the river rapids, like you used to do down the Cowichan River. That was a fun time.
What was not fun, though, I remember, was your feet getting so badly burned as you didn’t put sunscreen on them. You always did crazy things like refusing to wear sunscreen or taking other safety precautions in life, because you thought you were invincible. And judging by the many close calls you had in life, at the time, I was pretty much in agreement with that perception! Those burns on your feet made a permanent imprint that never went away, and perhaps that can pose as a metaphor for the memories I would also like to have imprinted in my mind forever.
On that trip, you also showed your innate love and care of animals to me, particularly dogs. I knew that a deep compassion for all beings dwelled inside of you, and thatâ€™s a large part of what drew me to you. We met a street dog named Boquita, sitting outside a Walgreenâ€™s with her heroin-addicted guardian, and you fell in love with this sweet creature. You sat with her and petted her, and bought her food and water, wishing you could do more.
It was not easy to communicate with her guardian as he mostly only spoke Spanish, but the next year when we returned, we asked around for â€œla perra Boquitaâ€ and we found her! You gave her love again, and I recall you even helping her guardian as well by bringing him painkillers to help him with his drug withdrawal. You were a kind, deep-hearted soul and it was always within you to do good for others. This, in my opinion, was what defined you as a citizen of this Earth.
I like to think that youâ€™re still experiencing â€œlifeâ€ here with me in some way. I sometimes will do things or see things, for example, that I know you would love. A movie, a fast car, a Border Collie. I have often remarked to my sister â€œBen would love to see thisâ€, regretting that youâ€™re not there to share this experience with me. But her response is always â€œhe probably isâ€, and I hope she is right, acknowledging the possibility that youâ€™re everywhere now, and you have the ability to do anything now, with no barriers to overcome.
In writing this today, I just welcome our memories to permeate through my soul and to acknowledge your life here on Earth, in a place where your presence may only be seen now perhaps in the rustling of the trees or the whistling of the wind. Today I honour you, Ben: the experiences you lived, the joy and pain you felt, and the person you were. Happy Birthday, my soul mate. xoxo