Monday, April 03, 2006

4/3/06 The “Beautiful Boy” Has Gone Home

The song played in my head, relentless in its desire to take me away, afloat on the melody. The place in the song was not a desirable one. It would take me much too close for comfort to my own situation. I didn’t willingly choose to go there, to the place in my heart where the pain beat at me, like a cold winter wind.

Just as I was not given a choice in the situation, neither was this family. I had to stare down fear in its face and keep moving, as did they. The difference now between us is that they have their answer, but it is not the type of answer any of us want. After more than 5 years of hoping and searching, Jeffrey Ben had been found deceased.

His story parallels my son’s story in many ways. Jeffrey was 18 when he disappeared and Jason was 19. Jeffrey was found a little over 5 years after his missing date. Jason will have been missing for 5 years on June 13th of this year. Both of these young men had loving and generous spirits, and were well liked by all who met them. They both dreamed of being a sportscaster. Had Jeffrey and Jason ever met, they would have had a great time trying to best each other with their knowledge of sports trivia.

Back in October, I wrote Jeffrey’s story on this blog. Out of all the stories I’ve written, his was close to being the only one with a continual daily stream of readers, even long after I published it. (Maura Murray’s story follows in readership.) Many of the stories have readership long after their publish date, but none like this. I watched in amazement, and quickly came to a conclusion. Jeffrey and his family must be such kind, loving people to have invoked such love for them by the thousands of people who read his story. Many of them were strangers, but something about Jeffrey struck a cord in them. Maybe he was the embodiment of every mother’s young son, awakening an urge to reach out with a loving, but protective arm.

Upon hearing the news, I was numb. I wanted to write something, but it seemed I could only stare at the blank page. The words didn’t come. I felt compelled to play his song, the one which to me represented him and his mother’s great love for him.

The words took on a new meaning and prompted my eyes to fill with tears. Even so, the family’s pain certainly had soared to new heights as illustrated by words his sister, Alisa, wrote on Jeffrey’s guestbook:

“I arrived home Monday night after a very difficult day of travel. I spent the entire layover in a public restroom, squatted on the tile, crying at the thought of everything. Memories, words, letters, perceptions, evidence, bones, arguments, disappointments, just everything beating me up...but at the end of this confusion the simple memory of my brother's long, slender feet...I'll never forget his feet. He would kick me with them when we were children and it would feel like sharp knives stabbing me when his thin bony heel would press into me...I would get so mad and we would go at it. At the end of it, I would be hurt...he would be hurt...we would be crying and somehow the compassion of loving someone more than you can understand would kick in and we'd want to nurture one another and make each other feel better. It was some of my earliest experiences with unconditional love, compassion, and connecting.

Yesterday I rode with my family as far as I could ride in a 4-wheel drive vehicle in the mountains. Afterward, we had a steep hike into a remote area marked only by boudler-like rocks. As metal detectors went crazy, I would fall to my knees and put my hands to the ground and dig with all the force my fingers had. I do not think I will ever forget how it felt to pull a rib from the earth, and all the emotions that came from that...I kept thinking about how if this was my brother scattered throughout this area...bones buried in various places where wild animals had dragged remains....eaten flesh over the years...this was beyond any words I could have ever learned, emotions I could have ever known, and as Jeffrey and my little 12 year old brother held the rib that is believed to be his hero, our brother Jeffrey, to his face to absorb it...I broke down. I felt that love and compassion that I learned from my brother and all I wanted was to hold my 12 year old brother and take that visual of that rib away from him, away from me, away from my mom who had this look/emotion that I had never known before...I wanted to put it back and pretend it never existed, but at the same time I became obsessed with finding more pieces of this wonderful brother that I was so fortunate to have him my life for 18 years....I never wanted to stop digging, searching, I wanted to dig, dig, dig, dig, dig. I had never known the feeling of holding a rib (that could be Jeffrey's) that was weathered and holding it so close to was unbelievable but I felt such love.

With this dirt under my nails, days of not showering, bags under my eyes, tears at the drop of hat.....the only thing I can think about is that this amazing boy, this compassionate person with the biggest aura I have ever known...didn't get enough compassion from whomever may have laid him in that resting heart aches to think about him, alone, cold, hurt, suffering, looking at the sky as it turned from dark to light...I hope he knew that I was looking in the same sky.”

I met Jeffrey’s mother, Linda, at last year’s Cue Center conference in NC. She was one of the family speakers who presented the story of the missing person in her life. She impressed everyone with her quiet but powerful passion. We had worked with her for a long time before that, but it was the first time, we’d ever met. She is also involved in our Campaign for the Missing, working to get legislation passed in OK that will improve the way missing person’s cases are handled by the authorities. When she is feeling up to working on it again, my hopes are that Jeffrey’s Law will become a reality. That would be a fitting way to honor his life.

You may read the original story about Jeffrey here:

A memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday, April 5, 2006, 2:00 pm, at the Clayton OK School auditorium.

Psychics and Missing People will continue on Tuesday.


Blogger Michelle said...

Rest in Peace, Jeffrey. And from where you are, perched high in Heaven, comfort your family and friends.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful Jeffrey, your story has touched my heart for several years, and at long last you have been found and are going "Home". The answer is not the one we would have all chosen for you , but you can now Rest in Peace, you are back with your family, friends, and those who loved you.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Thank you, Kelly for sharing your beautiful way with words for Jeffrey. Jeffrey's beautifully handsom face will always be on my heart as he captivated me from the moment I saw his face and read about this terrible tragedy. I too have sat and stared at the blank screen ever since I got the news and do not know how to put into words what I am feeling. My thoughts and prayers will continue to be with Linda and the rest of Jeffrey's loving family.

8:00 PM  
Blogger j.sterling said...

i had no idea they found him. i had been following his story for years. HOW did they know where to look??

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the wonderful things people have said and the stories they have shared about Jeffrey are amazing and so true. I wish everyone that has read his story and knows his name would have had the oppertunity to meet him. They would have loved him as much as we all did. If there ever was a person that deserved the title of a hero.... Jeffrey would be that person. He deserved so much better then this. His family is so strong. My heart aches so much for his family....

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, jeffrey. sweet angel boy. i can't believe it's over. why did it have to end this way? i love you and i always will love you.

11:09 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.