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Summer 2000 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Alison Rickerl, Mom, Houston, TX

No more oxygen tanks, pulse oxymeters, and vile medications. No more standers and wheelchairs and AFOs. No more nebulizer treatments and cleaning vomit off the carpet. No more late night emergencies, hospitalizations, tubes, wires, and syringes. Blessed relief... No more hug and kisses. No more crooked smiles. No more delighted full-body wiggles. No more roughhousing on the floor. Wretched grief...

My son died. Some say there is no greater pain than to lose a child. I'm sure others feel that pain every bit as keenly as I do. Ben touched many people very deeply. That pain would not hurt so much if the love was not so deep. There is no greater love than that of a parent for a child.

Benjamin was only 3 years old when died. In three short years, Ben faced more medical problems than most people do in 75 years of life. His disabilities and health impairments have 3 hardly been conducive to a "normal" lifestyle. Life has been difficult for all of us these past three years _ but I would not trade a second of it. Ben was an incredible gift of love, and I am so grateful for the time I had with him.

Many years ago, I prayed for patience. So God sent me Meglyn, my first-born, and I learned. But I was still dissatisfied with my ability to cope with such an energetic child. So I prayed for more patience. And God sent me Madison. Between the two of them, I learned how to be patient with all kinds of children. But still I didn't think I was quite where I needed to be. So I prayed some more, and God sent me Ben. That's when I learned how to be patient with adults, too.

Madison and Ben have both brought into my life such diversity and understanding of the bigger picture. From the moment, five years ago, when the doctor shook his head and said my daughter would never see, I knew life would never be the same. I was not allowed to stay the same, to become stagnant in my abilities and thinking. In advocating for my children's needs in the education, social service, and medical systems, I grew in every way. Meeting their needs has done more than any other experience I've ever had to help me purge selfishness and pettiness from my heart. They have helped me develop a deeper understanding and compassion for all people. My children have molded me to be confident in my ability to tackle the various hurdles in those arenas. Ben, especially, gave me the courage to face my worst fears and still do the best job I could as a mother.

Ben has moved me to learn more, do more, and be a better person. Even thought he was blind, he gave me eyes to see what I had not seen before. Even though he was deaf, he taught me to listen with an open heart and mind. Even though he was very sick, he gave me enormous strength. Ben gave me such joy. The smallest things gave me the most enormous pleasures. The brief moments that I could hold his hand, the rare time he was able to hug back, the times he was able to let me hold him for hours, and even roughhouse, the beautiful smiles, the stiff wiggle of his body when he was delighted . . . these moments were better than vacations, promotions, and fancy parties. With his needs for expensive health care and equipment, I knew I'd never drip with diamonds . . . better, I dripped with joy and happiness.

Because of Ben, I have known complete joy and happiness. I thank God everyday for sending him to me.

I believe that Ben has fulfilled his purpose here on Earth. Many of us spend decades trying to do what we are called to do _ invent something, improve something, whatever. Some never do fulfill their calling. In just three short years, Ben has done more; through him, souls are saved. He has touched each of us deeply and we are forever changed.

To those of you who were afraid of his disability and health impairments, please let his life and death inspire you to reach out to others in need. If you are lonely, take heart that it is in family 4 the giving of love to others that you learn to feel truly loved.

I know you feel very sad for me. But it is that feeling _ that ability to truly feel caring and giving _ that inspires the best in all of us. Don't turn that off. Let that pain turn into the glow of joy and the ability to easily give to anyone in need at any time. In that way, my loss is not in vain, and Ben's life and death will have helped so many people.

Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)