I got the news at 20 minutes past 10 PM on Wednesday night, July 1st. I was told there was a motorcycle accident and you didn’t make it. You were the one on the motorcycle.
I can’t process it.
Jordan Benjamin – or “Jordy B.” as I’ve called you since your birth – you went to rest with Jesus that night. I always thought of you more as a brother, not a cousin. I look back at all my favorite memories from childhood, and there you are.
This is how I remember you.
That was you. Always close to me, always up for a good laugh, a great joke, or a fun time. If you were around, we were together. You were one of the few people I could tolerate for long periods of time without needing to rest afterwards to recharge. You knew when I needed to be chill for a while and you knew when it was time to get into some mischief. I could count on you to be my partner in crime or my partner in laughter. No one else in our family got our humor – except maybe Grandpa when he would help us play a prank on someone else.
Even two and a half decades later, we still laughed about the time when Pa helped me play a trick on Josh because he was being mean and bossy. Just because he was the oldest didn’t mean he could boss us around, right? Right. And Pa drank apple cider vinegar and water every morning, and it looked a lot like apple juice, so a plan was hatched. Pa and I would replace your juice and Josh’s juice with vinegar water and see how that went. He thought we could get you, too. Only you came into the kitchen early to sit down – before Josh – and I couldn’t do it. So I caught your eye when you went to grab your cup and shook my head.
You knew. You set the cup back down on the table.
You grinned, in on the joke without a word needed.
I’ll never figure out how he couldn’t smell the difference, but when Josh drank from his cup and spit the vinegar across the table (and all over his breakfast), the other three of us lost it. You sat across from me, slapping the table, and we had tears rolling down our cheeks it was so funny. Even last Christmas when we were reminiscing about that very story, we got so tickled we couldn’t retell it. That was only 6 months ago.
It probably wouldn’t have been that funny to anyone else, but it was to us.
You would do just about anything I asked you to when we were little kids. No one has ever trusted me the way you did. (I’m not sure you should have, but we made some of the best memories and there were no injuries, so I’m keeping that on the books as a win.) No one has ever been able to read my mind quite so well, either. With a look, you knew when I was getting ready to blow a gasket or when I needed you to run interference. With a look, we could both burst into uncontrollable giggles that would have us rolling in the floor and crying from laughing so hard, even if no one else knew what on earth we were laughing about.
We would say, “You just had to be there and see their face.” And it was hysterical for both of us, because we were there. We saw their faces – could still see them in our heads.
That is how I remember you.
And this is how I remember you.
Always just over my shoulder. Always next to me when it mattered. Always willing to flatten anyone who might hurt me, whether they were blood-related to us or not.
Then again, you kept me posted on things. Will joked once that you called me in to be the heavy when you needed back-up on something. I told him he was wrong; I knew you. It wasn’t that you needed back-up, it was that your truth was sometimes a little more passive-aggressive and you knew that, while we had that in common, if I felt backed into a corner I would swing first before you could.
You knew that if you asked me, I would fight Hell with a water gun to make whatever you needed happen. (Never mind that there was a solid chance I needed the same thing but wouldn’t have done it for just myself.) You knew I would say things we both meant and I would do it in a way so no one would hate me for it later but everyone got the point.
You also knew I would say them to anyone, whether family, friend, or stranger. You would elbow me then pretend you didn’t. I always took the bait.
Then you would tell me later that I was too nice, but it seemed to work, so you were okay with it. You’d say, “I would have just…” then filled in the blanks with a half smirk, finishing with, “…but that worked, so whatever.”
I would then say, “Yep, but you didn’t,” then stare at you until you gave up with, “Fair point.” Then we would grin at each other and go on about our day.
This is not a good illustration of the man you were or the brother you were. This is not at all indicative of why people have confused us for twins all our lives (or triplets that one summer, but I’m pretty sure that was a fluke and only happened because Grandma made our clothes so Josh, you, and me were always wearing the same thing). Even last year, at the hospital, a nurse asked if we were twins. We both started laughing. You were over 6 feet tall and I’m 5 foot nothing. She said it was because of the way we acted. I don’t know how to capture that in words.
There are too many memories for me to sort through the vignettes so quickly. It will take time.
People keep asking me for details. I keep telling them I don’t know any of them – I always got details from you. You always called me or texted to tell me what was happening. You always ended with, “I’m doing this if you want to, too.” From the very first memory I have of you, that is what you would say. It was your way of asking me to show up for you.
People keep asking me how I’m doing. What am I supposed to say to that?
My sarcastic “Jordan voice” has a few things to say, but I ignore it. My abrasive “me voice” wants to let them know that’s a stupid question. I ignore that one, too. I take a page from your book (not the sarcastic one, the more pragmatic one) and say I’m doing about as well as can be expected.
I know I will see you in Heaven, so I feel comforted and at peace with that knowledge.
I am heartbroken for all of us you left behind for now; I was not prepared for this. None of us were.
I feel a little lost. You were my lynch pin.
I keep picking up my phone to call and text you to see what everyone else needs, then I remember you can’t tell me any more. That is the weirdest…
Your light was bright. Days will be dimmer, now. So I will be remembering your light, your laughter, your sense of adventure.
See you soon, bro. Until we laugh again, together.
And tell Grandma (Clara) I said hello and that her peach cobbler is still fabulous.