Friday, March 24, 2006

The Last Time (Revised and Revisited)

Dear Readers: This is the fourth revision of Chapter 1 of my book in progress entitled In Memory of Ben. I welcome any and all feedback and comments. I thank you for your time and interest on behalf of my late son Ben Z'L

I believe it was an act of “Divine Kindness” when I was fortunate enough to spend several minutes together with my son Benjamin for the last time, Wednesday morning, November 22, 2000.

Having just left my synagogue to drop off my dry cleaning, I turned around to find Ben standing right behind me. He had awoken late for work, saw my car parked outside the dry cleaners, and thought to ask if I would drive him to the train.

It was very pleasant to be with Ben that morning even if only for a few minutes because he lived in his mother’s house together with his sister and brother. I had moved out the previous summer. Our last conversation went something like this:

"How are you, Ben?"
"Fine, Dad. You?"
"Okay. How are you?"
"Good."
"You feeling good?"
"Yup."

Within several minutes, we pulled up in front of the train station. Ben opened his door …

"Do you have money on you?"
"Yes, Dad. ‘Seeya’ later!"
"Be safe!"


And off he went. It took me several minutes to get to work. Seemed like just another day until I received a phone call from an emergency room doctor who informed me Ben had been injured very seriously in an accident and advised me to come to the hospital immediately!

A frightful myriad of thoughts raced through my head as I sped off in quiet desperation. The only information I possessed at that moment was my son was still alive. However, I confess here that I already “knew” how this day would end! The gravity of the doctor’s tone of voice only served to reinforce my premonition.

I arrived in a frenzy only to be hurriedly ushered to the emergency room whereupon I granted my authorization to employ any possible measures to save him. I chose to witness the procedures in full view from behind a glass partition while a frenzied team of doctors and nurses struggled mightily to save my son. I stood not more than ten feet away from Ben. Having already called my dad on my way to the hospital, he arrived soon by my side. Choking back the tears, Dad pled with Ben to hang on! The trauma surgeon later testified in a deposition that he had been worried about my dad’s witnessing what proved to be a futile effort to resuscitate Ben lest something befall him.

Open heart massage ... failed! Oxygen mask ... failed! Electric shock ... failed!

Moments later, the lead doctor turned to me and sadly shook his head. Ben was gone! A nurse asked me if I wished to be alone with him. She took my dad aside and drew a curtain.

I stood there aside Ben, placed a kippah
[1] atop his head and kissed his handsome nose.

“Thank you for being such a good son Ben.”

It was all I knew to do and say at that moment! We were with each other for a few final minutes. While Ben ‘slept’, I sang the 23rd Psalm softly.

It was not too long before the emergency room attendants arrived to move the body. My friend Rabbi Louis had arrived just moments before. I now had to face Ben’s mom. In his kindness, Rabbi Louis offered to stand in for me and tell her. He is such an amazing friend, but I assured him that I could do it. Accompanied by both my dad and Rabbi Louis, I was led across the hall to a room wherein Ben’s mom sat awaiting news. I approached her.

"Ben is gone!" I cried out, placing my forehead upon the top of her head.

Such an utterance of primal pain can be heard only from a bereaved mother. I shall never forget its sound!

After having spoken with the surgeon to forbid the performance of an autopsy
[2]-when there was nothing more that could have been done-Rabbi Louis and I walked together to my truck. Having taken a cab to the hospital, I was to drive him home. How comforting it was to be with my friend! While the truck warmed up, Rabbi Louis called Rabbi Moshe, a chaplain with the Chicago Police Department, to expedite Ben's transfer to the funeral home. When the truck was warm, I drove Rabbi Louis home just a mile or so from my apartment. I remember nothing more of that Wednesday, November 22, 2000 the day before Thanksgiving. I think I fell asleep that night in my apartment!

[1] skullcap signifying God overhead

[2] Jewish tradition forbids this practice.

7 comments:

Jan said...

Alan..no matter how many times I read about that dreadful day that Ben left this life, I am filled with sadness, and I feel your loss. I think he must have been a truly wonderful person...I wish that I could have known him. Thank you so much for sharing your memories of Ben.

Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Jan,

I shall never tire of telling his story nor shall I ever tire of thanking you for your kind words and support. I remain,

Very Sincerely yours,

Alan

Regina Clare Jane said...

Alan- what a beautiful and tragic story. Life seems so fragile. One moment you are there, sharing just a few words with someone you love, and the next moment, they are gone. Your telling of Ben's story is a great reminder for all of us to speak the truth to the people we love, because we never know if we get that chance again. Ben does sound like a wonderful boy-

Biru said...

--sigh--

Alan... after reading your story, it seems burden pressed my chest.
I could not imagined how hard your heart in pain to see Ben's gone.

I took part in praying for the strength for you and the beautiful memory from Ben continued to live around people who were left by him.

Kiki

Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Kiki,

Thank you very much for your lovely and moving note! I do appreciate it really and truly. Hoping that you will continue reading Ben's story, I am ...

Very Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Regina,

Please forgive the unconscionable tardiness of this thank you note, butI have been spending more time writing my book about Ben than blogging about Ben. I remain ...

Very Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

Anonymous said...

Never having known your son, I still read this and cry tears of pain. What a beautiful and eternal tribute to your son, the eternal love of his father captured in words. He sounds like a beautiful boy, and you a wonderful, loving father. How old was is, if I may ask?
G-d Bless you and yours, Susan