I cannot tell you how much I was affected by following the story of Ben Bowen, a young boy who lived most of his short life battling a horrific form of brain cancer. His life was ultimately lost on this earth in a most painful and difficult manner. His parents remained resolute and strong in their faith and their desire to honor their second son. You can read about Ben's cancer journey here
. More than three years after Ben's death, the site still maintains a regular following despite the fact that it is seldom updated. Ben and his family continue to be everyday heroes in my mind.
Tom, Ben's father, was a West Virginia fire fighter, who became known around the world after the September 11 attack on the twin towers in NYC. Tom was a member of one of several rescue teams that searched for and recovered the bodies of those lost that day from the collapsed buildings. He was the fireman in the photo seen praying over one of the bodies that they had located and brought out of the rubble. Later, when Tom's son Ben was battling for his life against the monster called cancer, the son of the man in the picture that Tom was praying for, left a comment on Ben's site, letting Tom and his family know that he was praying for their son, just as Tom had prayed for his father.
Tom has only minimally kept up with the site that chronicled Ben's battle but every once in a while, I will return and be surprised by an update. After they lost Ben, the Bowens have added two more sons and are now expecting a daughter in December, all joining older brother Elijah, who lives with the loss of a brother he adored. If you visit Ben's site, I am sure you will be touched by Tom's open and honest expression of the pain he experienced, of his clear and determined love for his family and his desire to respect and honor Ben's memory.
On my visit to Ben's site today, my first in months, I found a link to a blog that Tom started that tells of his experiences as a volunteer rescuer at the tower locations. It is also heartfelt and a true memorial to the lives lost on that fateful day as written by someone with first-hand experience at the tower site. Tom's blog is called Live Life Different
. I urge you to go there and read what Tom had to say. There are only two entries, both relating to his memories and experiences surrounding the 911 tragedy. It's well worth the time.
Labels: Cancer, Heroes, Humanitarianism