A Tie For A Friend

Today I wore a tie.

This something that is not normal for me.

I wear ties at times, but normally only for special occasions: Christmas Eve, Easter, when I preach, weddings, or when I go on a fancy date with Antonia. Otherwise I’d much rather try to get away with wearing jeans and a comfortable shirt. But today I did wear a tie, and it was for none of the above reasons, but it was a special occasion.

My dear friend Benjamin Gotchel (who has posted twice on this blog) had surgery today to get a malignant tumor on his brain stem.

On monday he was hanging out with Antonia and I. I was making fun of his socks and he was kicking my butt in ‘Clue’. We talked for a while and hung out, and then he went home. The next day I got a text from him saying they had discovered the tumor on his brain stem. Then, just 3 days later, he entrusted himself to the hands of the surgeons that they might remove this tumor from his brain.

Over the past day or so people have been rallying around Ben’s side to support, and pray for, him. One person even decided that they were going to entitle today, “Tie Day” and that they were going to encourage everyone to wear a tie in honor of Ben and to remind them to pray for his surgery. I thought this idea was awesome. So for this special occasion I wore a tie today.

Recently, I received a phone call from a friend telling me that after 5 and a half hours, Ben is out of surgery. The tumor came out cleanly and that he is fine. Now all that is left if to pray for his recovery and hope that not many more treatments are needed and that no further complications arise. This is why I a tie today along with many others.

As I wore my tie today, watched his facebook feed, and thought about Ben’s life I realized something: I want to live a life more like his.

It is interesting because I’m sure when he reads this he would tell me the same about my life, but that is exactly what I love about Ben: he strives in all things to put others above himself. Actually the whole concept of his blog, “Et Al” and the tattoo on his wrist (with those words) is build around that idea. “Et Al” means, “and others” and reflects Ben’s heart exactly. So it comes to no surprise that so many people would rally around Ben today and wear their ties proudly. They rally around him because he loves others well, and because he reflects Jesus in way he lives. He is an inspiration to us all, even if he says he shouldn’t be or that he has a lot to work on.

I can’t help sitting here and wondering what the response would be if I found myself in his situation.

My hope and pray is that no matter what that response may be that I would love others well and inspire people to do the same.

Who has inspired you to live more fully?

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About Jeremiah Dowling

I write poetry and take crazy pictures in an Orange Chair all over the United States while reading amazing books.

3 responses to “A Tie For A Friend”

  1. Christine says :

    This blog is really touching. I too went through a dear friend of mine going through serious health issues. She was and is so full of life and always full of laughter. Even when her diabetes caused her heart issues and to have open heart surgery. Even when her kidneys shut down and even when she went for dialysis. Even when she had a kidney and pancreas transplant she still found something to joke about. When she went into a coma and her body rejected the pancreas, I prayed scriptures over her and read to her and spoke to her while she was in the coma. I could not imagine life without my nutty buddy ! When she came to and became a walking miracle, I realized how much faith my friend had to pull through. It was not easy for her but she was so strong. She was more concerned about me while she was laying there in the hospital ! I did all I could do not to break down and cry seeing her in the medical condition she was in. I tried to be strong for her, however I think we were strong for each other. And, we did drive the nurses and doctors crazy with our “violent” scrabble games while she was in the hospital ! Today my friend still battles diabetes but her new kidney is working. She lives one day at a time thanking God everyday she wakes up. She showed me that every day is a precious gift. God blessed me with my precious friend.

  2. A friend says :

    You summed up Ben perfectly.

  3. Lynnette Grimaldi says :

    This was eliquently written.

    I have had the pleasure of working with Ben his first summer of employment (he was maybe 16) and his summer before heading off to college. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the way this young man thought at the age of 16 (even then, he expressed a compassion towards others not often seen by kids his age) As someone who works with kids on a daily basis it was not uncommon of me to compare the conversations I had with him vs. the one’s I worked with daily…and the longer the summer moved on, the more I couldn’t help but think that this young man is destined to grow up and do miraculous things.

    Ben came to visit the office the day before he headed to Philly. He didn’t say a word, we had no idea. He carried on being his usual funny self. We all wished we could sit with him longer and chat awhile, we even asked him to cover the afternoon shift (mainly so we could carry on with him). What was remarkable about him was that he always implied that he was learning something from us while all the while we were learning from him.

    I too, saw the post about wearing the tie, and with that, I packed a bag of ties chosen from my son’s collection which was a colabortion of ties chosen by my father, their grandfather (whom I lost earlier this year) and as I put the ties in the bag one by one I asked my dad to watch over this young man because I felt I had more to learn thru Ben. I brought those ties into work this morning and told everyone what I had read on FB, with smiles and tears, we all put one on. We wore them today in honor of a young man that has made a very BIG impression. We used to joke that he was “just a college kid and what did he know?”

    I believe he knows more than the average “grown-up” and I for one am grateful for having time to have learned a thing or two, I am even more grateful to have been given the hope of believing more time has been granted to potentially be taught more! : )

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