Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Friend to the End...

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

A Friend to the End…

I first met Benning in 2003 during my first F2K class. We were not supposed to wander the rooms but the rebel in me had me wandering and I run into him. He called me ‘toots’ our very first meeting and I’ve liked him ever since.(an endearing name he calls many)

He didn’t chastise me for wandering, instead he said I’d make a good mentor and that is when my mentoring days began and a friendship blossomed! My writing was taking off but I was finding more joy in teaching, helping and learning along the way.

I eventually became a lifetime member of WVU thanks to Mr. Hembree and by this time more and more friendships were just the seeds I needed to add to my flourishing garden. Benning and I were mentor’s on many levels, sharing tips, pointing out each others wrongs and rights but each day, each passing week, our friendship was growing forming a special bond.

Something happened a few years back that I won’t regurgitate, but I was no longer a mentor and instead of Benning just letting me go and wallow in my own self-pity party, he joined me and stood by when it was one of the most difficult times in my writing career. That’s just the kind of guy he is though. I thought I was special but guess what, each and every person who knows him thinks they’re special too, and I bet they are to him, in their own way.

Through PM’s, emails and facebook we never let our friendship go sour. We’ve had bickers and bites, and many food fights, but at the end of the day, we each wished each other well and rose the next day to banter all over again.

I never took him for a ‘bible’ toting kind of guy, but a year or so ago, like me he began posting scripture. I always got on him about before you post it be sure you live it first. You know, a sort of practice what you preach kind of thing? I think this was his way of getting in tune with God. I was really glad to see this growing change in him.

I remember a time when he went almost a year without the internet, did THAT hinder our friendship? No way. He’d go to the library almost everyday, to get a book of course, AND to drop me an email asking me how I was doing and letting me know how he was doing. Yup, our friendship just kept growing and growing.

So here I sit today missing my friend and his banter. You see, he had a heart attack a little over a week ago and it called for immediate surgery. A week after his surgery he is still on oxygen after being incoherent for a week and just yesterday he was taken out of the Critical Care Unit and put into his own room.

Still not running the halls and causing a ruckus, (which I’m sure he’ll be doing soon!) this is a step in the right direction and I await the day I get an update from his family saying, “He walked and talked today.” Or better yet, “He’s out of the hospital and is resting at home.” Well he won’t be resting at HIS home but his folks’ place since he needs SOMEONE to take care of him.

This is a man who always goes out of his way to make everyone else smile, a man who shares happy faces and emoticons as if it was bread for the day’s meal. He’s a happy go lucky guy now in the hands of the Lord who is walking him through a healing journey. One we’ve all taken at some point in our lives but now it is his turn.

After he returns to the virtual world (six weeks or more) and he weeds through the many, many well wishes on his facebook wall, sorts through emails and Get Well cards, he’ll come here and read this blog post and know that I will not give up on him and allow him to wallow in any form of self-pity, I am his best friend and his friend until the end. It’s amazing to see what a little writing journey for me brought into my life for a lifetime. I miss ya, Ben! Get Well Soon!

Thank you Lord.

Mark 5:19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.


Moonshooter said...

This is an honest, heartfelt writing about the kind of friend and person Jeffrey is. Thank you Joni for the tribute and letting us know what happened. Your feelings made me cry...and I think Jeff will too when he reads it.

I hope you realize that the two of you have made many of my days. Thank you...both.

joni said...

Thanks John!
It was around the time I met Ben I do believe I met you soon after. I've made an enormous amount of lifetime bonds that I wouldn't trade for the world.

You all are special to me and I hope you know it!

Love ya, garden friend! :D

Debbie Seko said...

:) Can't never explain how much you and Ben did in my life that you can never know. Hugs to you both!

Friends always,

Great post!

joni said...

:) Thanks Deb!
You were an inspiration too, y'know!

(((HUGS))) Always!

joni said...

After writing this post, it's made me all melancholy and thinking of all my friends I met in our first F2K together and how 11 years later we're all still friends!

Who says writing doesn't bond friends together!

Thank you!

joni said...

After writing this post, it's made me all melancholy and thinking of all my friends I met in our first F2K together and how 11 years later we're all still friends!

Who says writing doesn't bond friends together!

Thank you!

benning said...

Well, gosh! :O Now I'm all red-faced wit embarrassment! :O

*HUGS!* By the way ... I did NOT put that plate of mashed taters on your seat. Nuh-uh!

Thanks, Toots! :D <3

Thanks, Folks! :D

joni said...

You know I'm honest to a fault!

I could not let your illness go by without you knowing what your friendship truly has meant to me (sanity at times).

I thank YOU!.

Hey...mashed taters, who di...


joni said...

and it's called twitterpated, buddy. lol