Letter from Lauren

I have been struggling with how to say many things since
December 11, 2001. I have seen and heard the words spoken
and written about Ben with so much love, by so many people,
and I have often wanted to add my own, to share the Ben I
knew with all of you who have so graciously shared him with
me. And I suppose I have been a bit jealous, a bit greedy
about my memories of him, absurdly afraid that speaking
them, sharing him, meant losing him. I know this is not
true, but I am still afraid. For a year and a half I have
been struggling to articulate the horrible, sickening
weight of his absence from my life ñ the necessary
counterpart to the beautiful energy of his presence ñ but
you are exactly the group that does not need this
explained. You cannot know it any more clearly than you
already do.

My most cherished memory of Ben is the moment I fell in
love with him. It was at about 2am, the late-night hours
of the day I returned home from my first semester of
college. After games of bowling (I could sometimes compete
with him, even beat him, I think, but that was before he
got Homer, his own bowling ball) and pool (I maintain that
proprietorship of a personal pool table gives one an unfair
advantage), a small group of us made our way to the beach
below his house. I had a somewhat absurd desire to reach
the waves that night (as though they would be gone in the
morning) that Ben was happy to indulge. I had missed the
beach so much over the last four months, but the biting
December wind (bless you, Newport) kept driving our little
company into momentary shivering huddles, and we never made
it. But that was the night, as we crowded around in a
futile effort to block the wind, that I let my head fall on
to Benís shoulder and discovered what remains to this day
the safest and gentlest place I have known.

I donít know if it is selfish of me to write these things;
I leave it to you to decide. In the months after he died,
I kept trying to figure out whether I had a ìrightî to love
him as much as I did, and still do. I am still learning
that people can never be loved too much, or by too many
people. I deplore my memory for the specifics it entirely
fails to hold on to, and so what I can add to the songs of
life and friendship about Ben is merely a depth of
feelingÖthe omnipresent love and loss that makes my knees
weaker, my eyes wider, and my gratitude for life and death
a beautiful mystery I can hardly hope to contain.

The only words that come to mind every time I try to write
about Ben are very simple:

I love you, and I miss you, Ben.