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Grief

We chuckled when we referred to the two Bens as BO & BM, their initials forming unfortunate shorthand for human functions not talked about in polite company. They were in preschool together, neither very mobile and left on their own much of the time. Ben's mom, Donna, and I bonded over the mistreatment of our sons, both of us ultimately taking them out of the poor situation. Donna was going through a divorce at the time and had a lot of stress on her. She was a single mom trying to help her Ben.

Donna's Ben had a smile that stayed with me. His eyes were part of that smile and any interaction I had with him, even at that small age of three, I knew that he was listening and welcomed my attention.

After leaving the original preschool, I lost touch with Donna. A few years later, we all ran into each other at a children's library and stayed in touch from then on. Donna wrote a few posts for eSpeciallyBen, and then I did not hear from her for a few months.

At that same children's library, where we had reconnected, I saw a mutual friend. She shared with me that Donna had died suddenly. She didn't know the details, but it may have been breast cancer that came out of remission. I was devastated. What would happen to Ben? How would he understand that his mom would not be around? The questions hurt.

Donna's parents stepped in and took over full care of Ben. We saw him often at summer camp and other random outings. His caregiver, who helped the grandparents, was loving and sweet to Ben. Having never met the grandparents, I printed out Donna's posts from the blog and sent them through the caregiver. It was my way of showing that I cared about her daughter.

Just this week, I received an email from Ben's grandma, a first. I was excited that she was contacting me. I immediately thought that we could get the boys together. She said she had news to share, but wanted to be sure that this was the correct email.

My brain does not go to bad places quickly. I always assume the positive and I am, for the most part, optimistic. When at 7 a.m., I read the return email telling me that Ben had passed, I was shocked. I cried on and off the entire day while taking Ben to the allergist, going to the grocery store and getting ready for a work trip. I cry now as I write this on a plane.

I agree with what Ben's grandma wrote me. God has a plan and we may not understand it, but we must trust it. He gives us these beautiful children who change us forever. I grieve for Ben's family that their time with their precious daughter and grandson was cut short. I will miss Ben's smile, but he and his sweet mom will not be forgotten. They are both a part of our life story, made richer by their presence.

eSpecially Parents: Donna & Ben's story

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