A Town Gathers After Ten Year Old Dies

Vigil on the Green (The evening of July 9, 2017)

Oh, I know many people will write about this, and the reporters will do their stories.

But for me, I need to put my two cents down on paper, although, with a paucity of coins these days, and with inflation, it is probably more like two dollar bills instead of two cents. Just not sure you will think it is worth two hundred times more. Wow, didn’t think my math was thaaaat bad. A hundred times more.

Last night. And today. Today would have been my Dad’s 94th birthday, if he hadn’t died at age 43, when I was 12.

So, I only mention that because I feel like he is around when it is his birthday, and I feel like he is around today, and was around last night, along with all my other loved ones that have gone and are welcoming Ben with open arms.

Okay, okay, last night. A sea of candle lights at the end of the service on the Green in Branford. (So, for those that do not live around here, a ten year old young man died in a freak drowning accident several days ago, and the town gathered to remember him and both mourn his death and celebrate his life).

It is difficult to describe other than to note how it opened up my heart and brought tears to my eyes to see so many people come together and add their candle to the sea of little flames.

And, how moving to feel that my candle was part of this sea of glowing wonder, a mix of grief and sorrow, faith, and hope.

The speakers spoke, Ben’s brother spoke to tell what was so important for him to share, the story of what happened on that fateful Friday, and if you heard nothing else of all the speakers, and blurred it all together, I can still hear (sorry, his age and name at this moment escape me…his name is Scout, and he is Ben’s younger brother) his young voice saying, “I love my brother” at the end of his story. There is no doubt about his love.

There is no doubt this is an extraordinary family. The parents and the children all have an amazing amount of love not only for each other, but also for those fortunate enough to be touched by them and to be included in their circle of love that they share with all those around them.

They all have a light that shines about them, perhaps it is the light of God. They are intensely personal with their relationship to Jesus.

Even if you do not share that kind of relationship with Jesus, or you are of another religion, I must marvel at the amount of strength Ben’s father emanates in spite of the torn, ripped-open heart and unfathomable anguish he is feeling. Surely his faith taps into some limitless, boundless source of love and energy and compassion that I witnessed last night.

Someone not so connected might be crumpled in a corner or under the blankets wishing to be in a cocoon until they were able to withstand the light of day again, whenever that would be.

So, aside from the talking about Ben’s attributes and his love of love of Jesus, his living life full throttle with gusto, and his love of hugging people and all the beautiful ways he brought love to the world around him, this family is showing us their strength in faith. This may not be for everyone, but, I must marvel at what faith is doing for this family.

There is no question that this is as close to a test of faith as one can endure, at least in my mind. I lost my wife 5 months ago to pancreatic cancer, so let me just say I have a strong taste of loss still in my mouth.

This family has much fire to walk through in their grieving, but after this vigil, I know they will walk through it not only taking care of each other, but they also have company walking inside their hearts right along with them. Their faith in Jesus. And that gives them strength in themselves.

If anyone ever doubted the power of faith, look at this family, and learn something about love, and faith, and hope. Hope for ourselves, our community, our world.

Thank you Callahan family, for sharing your light, the light that is in your hearts, the light of Jesus, the light of God, with the rest of us. Thank you for living the talk, and being true lights among the darkness.

The candles we blow out and extinguish. Your flame burns on and your light remains to illuminate. As does Ben’s. Thank you for sharing the love you have found through your faith.

There is no doubt…no doubt in my mind, body, and soul, that Ben, this ten year old young man (and he was a MAN the way he spread love in this world), is with Jesus along with my wife. And all my loved ones and all the other souls in heaven are with God.

Seeing the Callahan family, renews my faith in faith.

Neal Klein
Life After Emilee, on the loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I’m not accepting comments right now but please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page.