Posted By: Judy Huenink, Parent
It has been over 7 years now and I still miss you every day! Life has been very difficult without your smiling face and I could always count on you to be there when I needed someone! You were and still are my shining star, my pride and joy! You lifted me up when I was down and could always make me smile! Life is not the same without you, but every day without you brings me one day closer to seeing you again! I was blessed, and the World was blessed with 22 wonderful years of knowing the most wonderful man in my life!
I love you big as the sky, big as the universe!!!
Please tell us a funny story about your child.
Once when he was little, about 2 to 3 years old and we were having supper, Ben asked his dad if he could have his dessert. His dad said you can have your dessert when you clean off your plate. Ben walked over to the trash can and scraped his food off his plate and said I am ready for dessert dad. Needless to say his dad got a bit upset....but I laughed so hard! I told Bruce he needed to specify because Ben had done exactly what he was told...he cleaned off his plate!
Tell us about your child’s personality.
Ben was the best. Always clowning around, trying to make people smile. He loved helping people and never asked for anything in return. One Christmas he had a friend who had lost his job. Ben cashed his paycheck and gave the entire amount to his friend so they could have a good Christmas. I remember one year it snowed and we were snowed in. My husband Nick was trying to scoop out our long driveway. Suddenly Ben shows up and said I thought you would need help. He told Nick get in the house old man, I have this. He scooped out the entire driveway. Another time, Ben got his income check in. He always told me I worked to much, multiple double shifts a week. He handed me his entire income tax check and told me here mom, you need this more than I do. After Ben passed away, a woman come up to me that had lost her son several years before. I knew he would go to Plymouth, but never knew what he was doing. She told me after her son passed away, Ben knew her son had mowed her yard for her, so he showed up one day and asked if he could mow her lawn for her, and he kept going to help take care of this woman. She said he would never take any money for what he did, he just wanted to make sure she was ok. I never knew anyone with a bigger and more loving heart than Ben. He would go without so others would have. That is just who he was. If someone was sad, he was their friend and would try to make them smile. He always told me I was the wisest person he knew and he wished he would have my wisdom. I think he was wise beyond his years. He knew the only thing that really matters in this World is to be the best person you can be...to love and help others. He would introduce himself as my name is Ben...Ben Slaven...I have Ben Slaven my whole life and always will be....LOL!!!! I couldn't have been more blessed than I was to have Ben for my son for 22 wonderful years!
How has the loss of your child impacted your family?
It devastated us. The family is not the same. In some ways Ben's death brought us closer together, but there is always a huge empty spot that only Ben can fill. We have carried on, but I miss my helper. Ben was always there to lend a helping hand, and the older I get, the more I miss him, especially with the things that require strength. He was the strongest kid I knew. When we are down, Ben was the one who always was there to cheer us up. God has blessed our family with new children. A beautiful granddaughter Tequilla Rose Miller, and Grandsons in order of birth Travis Benjamin Landon, Alexander Daniel Fisher, Asher Martin Landon, and a new grandson soon to arrive who will be the son of Cav Scout Nathan Fisher and my daughter Misti Fisher. They will all know of their uncle Ben, and hopefully his shining example of Love, Service, and Sacrifice will give them a sense of pride in their family and a purpose to do what is right and good. I know Ben set a great example for the rest of us!
What did you love most about your child?
Ben had the biggest heart of anyone I knew, and would always try to help people and make them happy. He would drop anything he was doing to be there for his family, his friends, and even people he just met!
What did your child enjoy most about serving in the military?
Ben enjoyed the military. He enjoyed being a part of something honorable, of serving his Country and protecting the citizens of our Country. He was very proud to be a soldier.
What did your child want to be when they grew up?
When Ben was young, he always wanted to make video games. He actually had the opportunity to work on a video game, debugging it, and earned the nickname Bugbendito while he was working on the computer game GORE the ultimate soldier with his uncles. He was so proud. As he got older, he talked about underwater welding. Ben loved God and thought about being a minister. After joining the military, Ben wanted to be a drill sergeant.
What do you miss most about your child?
Talking with him every day...he always made time to stop and see me and we would talk for hours..and his smile! Ben had the biggest most beautiful smile, it could light up a room!
What has been the greatest challenge since the loss of your child?
The greatest challenge has been living without him. Trying to get through the day without missing him. Growing old without my right hand man to help me. Living without his companionship. There was never any doubt Ben loved me. He told me every day. He always said I know I am your favorite mom. He is in my thoughts constantly, even after 7 years. His death left an empty spot in my life, and in the lives of his siblings that no one else can fill. So I guess the greatest challenge is the challenge of learning to live without Ben. He was the man of the house....he filled that role even as a young child, making sure everything was done, everyone was protected and everyone was happy. Ben would have made a great husband and father! But I would not want life without Ben. I have been blessed to have 22 wonderful years....and even though I would have like many many more years with Ben in my life, having him here a short time is better than to have never known him at all!
What inspired your child to join the military?
He wanted to protect our family, his friends, and our Country. He said it was better for him to protect us in Iraq than for terrorism and war to come to our Country. Ben wanted to make us proud. I told him many times I would be proud of him no matter what...and he knew that, but I think he also wanted to do something that gave him pride in what he was doing.
What message would you like to share with families with a loved one still serving in the military?
Your child is special and you should tell them every chance you get how proud you are of their service. Stand by their decision to serve. Keep positive, no amount of worry is going to change what the future holds, good or bad. Just keep things positive, let them know how proud you are and tell them you love them! You are truly blessed to have a child in your life that is willing to stand up to protect our Country and our citizens!
What message would you like to share with other Gold Star families?
Try to remember the blessing of your time with them. Remember that there is no greater love than to give your life for another...and our children gave their life for everyone in our Country. Even though their life was short, your child gave their life for a purpose. It wasn't taken from them for no reason, their life was lost so everyone in this Country can be safe and live in a Country of Freedom. Their life had purpose, it had meaning, and this World is a better place because your child lived!
What was your child like in high school?
Ben was a clown, but quiet, especially when it came to girls. Girls loved talking to him, but he was always nervous about asking them out. Ben had a job, working for our neighbor on the farm, then building pole barns with a friend. He always liked keeping busy. He wasn't real fond of homework...LOL!!! Ben was a good kid, who would do things for others and never ask for anything in return.
What was your child most passionate about?
Ben loved God, video games, helping people. Ben would try to excel at everything he did. But I think his biggest passion was that he wanted a family....he wanted to get married, have children, and be a great husband and father.
What was your Hero like as a child?
He was always my boy, wanting to sit on my lap and talk to me or have me sing to him. He was all boy, climbing trees like a little monkey, always so strong when he was 1 1/2 years old he would carry around cinder blocks. Ben loved video games and was beating games at 4 years old. He was such a comedian, always making people smile. He always loved keeping busy, loved to work, and was the best at putting up hay...he could pick up 4 bales at a time. A very sensible kid, made mistakes of course, but always tried to do what was right. He was very protective of his family. When his dad left when Ben was 5 years old, he told me he was the man of the house now and he would take care of me, and he did! He always talked about having a family of his own, and always wanted children. Ben was a great young man and I was always proud of him. Ben was honest, very honest...sometimes too honest...LOL!!! Ben never wanted to hurt anyone. He was the most loving child. Sometimes quick to temper and would occasionally say things he wished he could take back. Ben was never too proud to say he was sorry! He was a very good kid who always wanted to help people and would always stand up for the underdog. He was my pride and joy!
Which hobbies or activities did your child enjoy most?
Ben loved video games. Loved playing them and would spend hours playing them. Ben liked sports and was very athletic. Everything seemed to come very easy to him. He would tell someone he was coming over and RUN over to their house. Ben also was going to fix up his old truck, which he never got around to doing. He liked riding motorcycles. As a kid he also enjoyed horseback riding.