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  • Geoff Cordner

Showing Signs

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

On Friday, 25 October 2019 I enjoyed lunch with a few old cricket cronies. It is a regular get‑together between old teammates that takes place three of four times a year, always at the same venue, near Concord in Sydney’s west.

From the beginning of 2019 onwards it has been my practice, when returning from the lunch, to take the car ferry from Mortlake across the Parramatta River to Putney. The ferry drops me just a few hundred metres from the house where Ben sustained his life-ending injuries, and my route home from that point takes me almost directly past that dwelling.

Why do I choose that route? Why put myself through that pain again? The only way I can explain it is to say that it seems important to me to face the events of that day, and in particular those feelings of helplessness, head‑on. Somehow facing them makes me feel that I am processing them, and dealing with them, rather than avoiding them – even though there is an acceptance each time I go to that place that there are sensations and emotions associated with that day which I can never hope to overcome.

When I arrive home that afternoon I feel the compelling need to connect with Ben – something that has loomed especially large for me as a coping mechanism since his 22nd birthday. I start off on a walk without really knowing, as I depart, where I am heading for. I gradually meander my way to one of the local parks near our house where there is a very steep grassy slope leading to a lookout; a place where the clouds, the sky, and everything beyond them, seem closer to us mortals than anywhere else nearby.

As I climb the slope my eyes are drawn to the two wooden benches just below the crest of the hill, set about 30 metres apart. I remember even now making a clear and conscious decision to sit on the left-hand bench; almost as if some external force was compelling me

to do so. As I turn to sit down, and look at the sky, and the setting sun, I say silently to the world at large “If you are out there Ben, just give me a sign”.

I sit on the bench and immediately to the right of my right thigh I see engraved into the bench the words “BEN + LOZ”. I have never seen that marking before, but I know with absolute certainty that it refers to my Ben, and to his girlfriend, Laura – for whom “Loz” was his pet name.

My heart explodes with love and joy and, yes, even hope. My request to the Beniverse has been answered in the clearest and most immediate manner I could possibly have imagined. Something I cannot explain in any other way has led me to this precise spot at this exact moment, and I feel a sense of connection with my boy that quite simply defies verbal description. My faith in the Beniverse is exponentially enhanced.

The following day (marking nine months exactly since Ben’s death) we host a lunch at our house for my family, which of course includes Laura – an even more treasured member of our family unit now than ever before, and hopefully so forever. I show her a photo of the “BEN + LOZ” engraving, and ask her whether she has ever seen it before. She tells me it was she who put it there a couple of months earlier - whilst sitting in that same spot, for the same reason as I.

I confess I had thought the marking was Ben’s. And yet, somehow, it doesn’t seem to matter that it was Laura’s hand rather than Ben’s that carved that message of love. What matters

is that when I felt the need to connect with my boy the Beniverse led me to that exact spot. I could have so easily gone to the other bench, or to neither bench, or sat right on top of the engraved words, and not seen them at all.

That night, after all the guests have left our house, save for Audrey and Laura, the five of us return to Ben + Loz’s bench to watch the sun go down. It is the first time Linda, Tim and Audrey have seen the engraving first-hand, and they are moved by its presence, and particularly by the sequence of events that led to me discovering it.

This group of five, this core alliance, the shared love for Ben we feel, and for one another, this is what sustains us all. This is what gives us the strength to carry on. Because grief you can share is grief you can bear.

And maybe every now and then, if we believe in something strongly enough, that grief can turn to hope, and a new future can emerge – one we have written for ourselves, rather than one that has been thrust upon us.


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