It was the morning of 11.11.10. I'd cycled to Wales and was in a hostel in a dorm room. My phone rang and my friend told me the news. I kept saying, “Are you %*% serious?” again and again.
I got the train straight to my friend Elsa's house and we snuggled up on the sofa and talked about him and cried and read other people's words about him and became closer than we'd been before.
In fact, I made quite a lot of new friends – Ben's parents, his friends and ex girlfriends, all united in our love of the awesome Ben Sharkey.
His funeral was epic. Bursting with creativity and love. As is standard at funerals, the only person missing was Ben himself. Otherwise it was a banging party. You'd have loved it.
For quite a long time after, I found the question “How are you?” too intrusive, because I was really really heartbroken. I just didn't have words to say it.
Then time passed.
I still think about Ben most days. I miss and love him and grief bloody hurts. But the world is also full of people who are alive right now. And I don't want to wait until they are dead til I realise how much I love them.
So this is a reminder to savour the ones you love. This life can be so so random. But one thing is sure – we will one day die.
It can be useful to remember that from time to time, so we can ask ourselves again, “What really matters to me?” WHO really matters to me?
I send love to the awesome Ben Sharkey and all those who love him. And I send out love to all the other awesome people out there in the world.
SPOILER ALERT: you are one of those awesome people. We are all awesome in our own unique way.
Ben once said I was as mad as a bag of hats. I think it was a compliment??? I think it was his way of saying he loved me.
So, give some love to someone in your own unique way.
And give some love to yourself too while you're at it.
Ben for sure taught me about that - embracing life. That's him in the photo, loving hating chilli. It's his art work too.
One day all this will fade away.