As I begin this post, about 30 hours have passed since I learned that my brother Ben had taken his own life. I haven't slept yet since I heard. I have nothing left to do now but write about it.
It's a strange thing to witness an entire life from beginning to end. I can still remember the day I heard the news that I had a new little brother. I was six years old and was very curious to see this new little person who had entered our family. I remember watching him grow over the weeks and months that followed and develop into a real-life walking, talking human being.
It's funny how the seemingly trivial things that I thought I had forgotten are now brought back and lodged in my memory forever. I used to pin him to the ground and tickle him until he begged for mercy, or until my mom came back into the room. I remember the ritual where we would be watching football and every time Lawrence Taylor made a tackle I would turn to him and utter those two dreaded words that caused him to shudder with fear -- Lawww-rence Taaaay-lor! -- and then proceed to chase him down and tackle him on the carpet. I was a merciless big brother.
As we grew older it became apparent that we were complete opposites, but in the same way. In between fights, I tried to get him interested in sports while he tried to get me interested in whatever he was into at the time. It was my little brother who taught me how to shuffle a deck of cards and how to play 7-card stud. Now I realize that I'll never be able to shuffle a deck again without thinking of him.
In his adult years, Ben struggled continually with depression. I tried my best to spend time with him whenever I could, and do what I could to cheer him up. But looking back now, I wish I would have done a lot more. A couple of months ago when he was really feeling down, I decided to take him on a little road trip in an attempt to cheer him up. We spent the day driving up along the north shore and chatting about everything that was going on in our lives. We stopped for a while on the shore of Lake Superior and just sat there skipping rocks and talking about life. It was the last time I ever saw him.
I woke up at about 3:00 p.m. on November 27th and checked my cell phone to see if there were any calls. "8 MISSED CALLS, 4 VOICE MESSAGES," it said. This was odd for a Tuesday and meant that either something really good or really bad had happened while I slept. The first message was from my dad and I knew exactly what had happened by the tone in his voice. I called him up right away and he told me the news. November 27 will only mean one thing to me from now on.
A lot of things go through your mind at a moment like this. The first is, why didn't I see it coming and do more to stop it? The second is, is he in heaven? And then there's a mish-mash of thoughts and memories that flood your mind and you become numb. I'm pretty sure it's the worst feeling I've ever had. But not a completely hopeless feeling. Because Ben was a professing believer in Christ, death does not have the final say, and I do not believe that there was anything unique about his final sin that prevented it from being covered by the blood of Christ any more than his previous sins.
I had just finished reading through the book of Job twice last week, and like Job, I want to question my maker. But I'm pretty sure that there isn't anything I can say to God that won't end in this scenario. So I'll put my hand over my mouth. Answers will come in due time. Right now I'm just going to miss my little brother.
Benjamin Dean Larsen (1983-2007)