October 22, 2018
Eight years now since Benjamin died by suicide and I am accepting that the old Helen and Jay are gone. 10/22/10 permanently marred and modified us. We will never be the same and I continue to find and adapt to my new normal. The impacts of his death are the portal we pass through every day.
Today I am writing a special Mara Moments Equine Therapy Blog post. This post highlights some healing I have experienced through two extraordinary men who reached out to me following Benjamin’s death. Today I want to share them with you on this the 8th anniversary of Benjamin’s death.
These two friends touched my wounded heart with their compassion and kindness. They deserve to be acknowledged on this anniversary because, sadly, they have both recently passed away.
Liz is a friend of our son, Peter, and her father is Jim White. I really did not know Jim until a few days after Benjamins funeral when he called me and said “Helen, Jim White here. I’m never going to forget you on this one, I’m with you forever.” I was so numb, so low and so out of it at the time I’m not certain what I said in response. However, Jim’s words during that first call amazed and touched me. The lovely part of this story and this man is that Jim actually did what he said he was going to do. Jim was a landline phone friend. He faithfully called me or left me messages and always stayed in touch. With little or no reciprocal friending back, Jim won me over as such a dear special guy! Sadly Jay, Peter and I attended Jim’s funeral on 3/7/18.
I lost an extraordinary friend. Jim was that rare person who, as Sarah R. pointed out truly “lived the Beatitudes” To be a recipient of his warm, kind friendship was an amazing experience. Thank you and Bless you Jim.
Then I met Todd Bol in 2011 because Jay and I learned about Little Free Library (thank you Mary R.) and we immediately wanted to have one as a memorial for Benjamin. Our family loves books, reading and libraries which were a wonderful part of Benjamin’s life, so a Little Free Library was a perfect memorial.
Benjamin, Helen and Peter
We met Todd and Susan Bol when they personally delivered and installed “Benjamin’s Books” LFL Charter number 260 on September 20, 2011 at Freedom Park. We even made the news in the Prescott Journal on November 17, 2011 when it ran this photo of the four of us along with a great story.
If I had never spoken to Todd again I would not have thought a thing of it. I had no capacity to make a new friend as I was still in therapy and struggling with depression, confusion and daily anxiety.
But Todd Bol was the extraordinary person who decided to be a friend in the midst of my pain. Todd would call me to chat and we talked about Benjamin and mental health. Todd would email me too. Several times Todd would circle back and ask Jay and me to participate in Little Free Library programs and events. Jay and I attended multiple National Book Events with Todd. Our story is in the first LFL video, and in the “The Little Free Library Book.” (2015)
Jay and I were married the same year as Todd and Susan, our children are the same age, we were all about the same age, and we all love books, libraries, reading and the mission of Little Free Library. Our connections touched us all.
I am currently a member of the National Board of Little Free Library, all because of Todd’s extraordinary capacity to be a friend and to include us among those he cared about and connected with.
After Benjamin’s death I designed a pocket coin in his memory with messages of the need for light and peace in our lives. Jay and I have had 3000 produced to date. We give them to people who have suffered loss or endured substantial pain. We also leave them in Benjamin’s library as well as in special places as we travel. Many family members and special friends have also distributed these “Benjamin coins” for us and we love their caring support with this task. Todd was a faithful carrier and distributor of Benjamin coins too. We gave him many bags of coins that he took on his trips around the country and to other nations to give away and share our story as he promoted Little Free Libraries. This truly touched our hearts.
Being in Todd’s magical sphere offered healing and positive activities for Jay, Peter and me to participate in that took us “out of the pits of our pain” and allowed us to share in the wonderful positive kind world of Little Free Library.
On this anniversary of Benjamin’s death, we are donating to the Todd H Bol Vision Fund as a memorial to Benjamin because Todd exemplifies qualities we value; supporting all people through the collective sharing of books in the most inclusive, creative and kind way!
Please join us in donating to this special fund if this speaks to your heart.
Can be accessed through this link:
On Monday, October 22, 2018, Jay and I will be focusing on Benjamin’s life and our memories of our family life with him. We plan to visit a favorite chapel to send up some prayers for Benjamin, Jim and Todd, and spend some time at Benjamin’s Bench.
Later we will eat at a Thai restaurant because that’s where Benjamin would choose to eat. We will visit Mara B who is also feeling the need for rest and introspection.
Thank you to all who read this and to our faithful Mara Moments followers.