Monday, August 11, 2014

Reflections of Ben

One of my former students died this week.  It was not a complete surprise for me...but still, it was unexpected.  He is survived by his son and fiancé.  I had not seen Ben since he was in the middle school where I was the guidance counselor.  He moved on to high school and at the age of 17 was a passenger in a car that crashed...killing one of the passengers and leaving Ben a paraplegic.  That was fifteen years ago.  I sent him a couple of cards, but lost contact over the years.

Facebook reconnected us.  I know a lot of people think that Facebook is evil...but I love explained in a former post: I Love Facebook.  I even mentioned Ben in that post...but today, Ben will be my only focus.  I had mentioned that I hoped Ben would take part in the Slice of Life next that can't be...and his witty and wise words will have to remain in his books and short stories.

Ben before the car accident.
Ben was the first to acknowledge that he was not a "student"....his high school years were not spent doing homework and striving to make great grades.  He liked having fun....and then there was the accident.  Some people might have become bitter about life, or full of self pity after such a tragic event.  Ben was confronted with not only how his life was changed...but also dealing with survivor's guilt. He and his friend had changed seats in the car....Ben lived...his friend died.  He wrote a short book about his life.  Dark Playgrounds  It is well worth the read.  I think it would be a great book for colleges to use for those going through counseling or psychology classes. Ben's voice throughout the book is the voice of someone's thought process when telling events that have shaped their lives.

Ben wrote other books.  I will put links to those at the end of this.  Any money he made from sales of his books was donated to various charities.  These were all self published books through Amazon, so he was still waiting for a publisher...or maybe he wasn't...maybe that is just my projection.  He was not writing to make a lot of money. He had stories to tell...and writing was his medium.  Another book, Only You , takes a unique approach at having the book talking to the reader...the book is the main character...talking to the reader.  More about it later.

Ben was more than an author.  He was friend to many. As I read many of the comments written on his Facebook page I am overwhelmed at how many lives he touched...usually through late night chats through Facebook messages.  He and I had many.  He, asking advice on his grammar (that is the weakness in his books), stating that his voice is what the reader relates to...but better grammar would make it easier to read.   He always took my advice with a smiley face, open mind and 'lol.'

Ben also touched my life...not as an author...or former student...but as a friend, helping my family when my brother-in-law became paralyzed from malignant tumor in his spine.  Ben would check each night with me to see how Geoff was doing.  He gave us advice on what to expect, how to make Geoff comfortable and most important...Ben gave us emotional support....this, all through Facebook.  I will hold those chats in my heart forever...and even now my eyes fill with tears.

Yes...Ben chose a path of helping others....through his books and through his on line chats.  He had his we all have....but would rise above to live another day....that was until Friday night...when he died at home. His health had often been precarious after the accident, and kidney failure probably caused his death. You will be missed by many, my friend....but your words will continue to touch lives...forever.

"One day the world will make sense, but then it will no longer matter.  Live in the chaos, dance in the rain and enjoy not knowing.  As long as one person forever speaks my name I will live forever"  Ben Daniels

As mentioned earlier: Here are links for his books.  Hell's Gate , Exsilium, Reflections of Me

Here is the description of the book "Only You" that was used on Amazon.

"I can sense you by me.  All you have to do is pick me up to give me life.  I am here to listen.  The question is, are you?
I am bound to these pages with words unread.  It is a journey through time of being forgotten.  Will you condemn me to this fate?
My name is Adam and it will be my pleasure to be here for you.  Turn through my pages to give my life meaning.  Make my life worth something.  All I need is you and Only You ."


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. Your heartache comes through your descriptions of Ben and his work. He sounds like an amazing young man who will be missed.

  2. I'm glad you shared about this special young man, am sorry for your loss. He left some fine gifts, didn't he?

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm glad you took the time to share how inspired and inspiring Ben could be.

  4. A sad post. I am sorry for your loss. His words will keep living every time someone reads his books.

  5. I'm glad you were able to get Ben back into your life via Facebook (which makes reconnecting possible). I'm sorry for your loss.

  6. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your stories about Ben.

  7. What a tragic/wonderful story that connects you to your work with kids and kids growing up and sharing life on FB. I'm with you on the value of social media. So great that you touched and were touched by Ben.

  8. Thank you for sharing this moving story. I don't post on FB very often, but I check in every day just to see what "my kids" are up to. Never mind that some of them are in their late 20s with kids of their own! They'll always be "my kids".

  9. I am sorry to hear of your loss. Your post was such a good tribute to Ben's life and gifts.