“Benny and the Jets” played on the radio today. It had to happen sooner or later. I could feel the hair raise up on my arm. In my mind’s eye, I could see the ginger dready towering above the counter, looking up with that gentle grin from behind his vintage glasses. The attention would turn to him when his song came on, as it often did anyways. Maybe he’d fan the flames of the moment with a dance move to appease us. The guy was like a flesh and blood cartoon character. His larger-than-life personality was accented just perfectly by his cutting-edge sense of fashion. It was like he rolled out of bed effortlessly with these colorful ensembles. Benny’s presence was so strong, inevitably it continues to resonate here at Elevation where he spent so much time as a beloved member of our team.
It’s so painful and unfathomable for all of us to know that he’s gone. He was always the life of the party – whether at work or beyond. His sense of humor was as endearing as they come. When he was on, he would invoke the spirit of a stand-up comedian carrying out a thoughtfully conceived monologue. In contrast to his lighthearted exterior, apparently he was tormented inside. He was masking something so excruciating, the weight was too much to bear.
Unfortunately most of us have known at least one person who has followed Benny’s fateful path. The situations always bear a certain degree of similarity. Perhaps there were warning signs or maybe it came so far out of the blue we can hardly comprehend the outcome. We always wonder, “Is there anything I could have done to make a difference?” In his case there were drastic mood swings from time to time. He was clearly a sensitive soul who felt the tides of life in a profound way. For most of us it’s impossible to imagine being so low as to lose sight of a way back to the surface.
Whenever someone leaves us too soon, we can only hope it will serve as a reminder to be more proactive in reaching out to friends and family who might be silently crying out for help. It’s natural to think that we don’t want to intrude in anyone’s privacy, but that is a small sacrifice for potentially saving a life. Now there are parents without their child, siblings without a brother, a dog without its person, a garden without a tender and countless people without a really special friend. Sadly it’s often not until someone is gone when it becomes fully evident how loved they were.