It was love at first sight! No explanation needed if you’re a parent…. We welcomed our beautiful baby boy, Benjamin Richard Cullen on March 5, 1987. We selected Benjamin, because we thought it was cute and Richard, after his maternal grandpa. Benjamin was a beautiful blue eyed baby boy weighing in at 7 pounds 4 ounces. He was perfect in every way.
Benjamin was the apple of our eye, playful, loving, so precious. It was apparent from the beginning he was a blessing, such a kind spirit and always pleasant. At the ripe age of 15 months, Benjamin became a big brother when we welcomed his baby sister Mandy into our lives. Ben was the protective big brother always concerned and watching out for Mandy, to ensure she was OK. At three years old Benjamin welcomed his second baby sister, Carrie. He always kept a watchful eye on the girls making sure they were safe and happy. When he wasn’t keeping tabs on them, he was busy gaming. He was a gamer! As they got older, Ben was always thoughtful when the girls have friends over. He would make them pizzas and give up his mattress from his bed, so they wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor. Ben was thoughtful like that, always watching out for others. We treasured our three blessings. I told people having kids was like enjoying Christmas every day. We awaited the excitement each day would bring.
Evenings were spent playing hide & seek before dinner, then baths before bedtime stories. It was our ritual. It seems like one minute we were living in the middle of constant chaos with three kids going in different directions between school activities, sporting events, summer vacation and jobs and friends always coming and going. Then before we knew it, our kids were all graduates and our house was quiet. While some days were longer than others, the years literally went by that quickly! Even though life took everyone in different directions after high school, fortunately we stayed close as a family. We enjoyed every opportunity of family times together, some, even from a distance. Ben was so gracious to host holidays at his place in LaCrosse. Carrie would drive from MN and Ben would set up SKYPE so we can chat with Mandy who was in Boulder CO. Thank goodness for Ben’s love for technology! Cell phones, computers, TV remotes, error messages, whatever it may be, Benjamin was always a text or call away and had our issue resolved within minutes. He had also set up our computers and Gram’s so he could troubleshoot from afar if he needed to assist us, which he did on a few occasions. If you expressed interest in making a purchase, especially tech related, Ben would have a response within minutes containing numerous links with the best product reviews and highest ratings. Ask and you shall receive – defines Ben. He couldn’t have been more giving.
There was a reason we called Benjamin the “constant” in our family. He was Mr. Reliable, always dependable. We appreciated him. His kindness extended beyond our family, to friends, acquaintances and colleagues. I don’t think we’ll ever know the number of people he helped find, repair or built computers for, but we are confident, there are a lot of you!
Ben had moved from La Crosse to Onalaska his last year to make room for a second roommate. He had been working at Kaplan for over five years, to advance his knowledge of information technology, while also pursuing a Bachelor’s degree. His strong work ethic and desire to learn awarded him various promotions in the company, his most recent being a Quality Assurance Analyst. Sometimes Ben’s work hours could extend into the early morning hours or into the weekends. He was hard worker and never wanted to let anyone down. His days consisted of work, school, repairing someone’s computer, daily workouts and gaming. Things were going really well…..or so we thought……
Little did we know the morning of November 11, 2014, that our lives would be changed forever! Blindsided doesn’t even begin to explain the devastation our family experienced learning not only of Ben’s death….but by SUICIDE! We heard the words you never wish to hear….YOUR SON IS DECEASED – WHAT?! Utter shock – WHEN?! Disbelief, pain, agony – WHY?! …Our longest 2 ½ hour drive ever…..So many questions, so few answers…. As most can attest to, there is nothing easy about going on in life after losing a loved one. The suicide element only magnified our despair. Our family wondered how we’d go on. I wondered, can I?
But as we know, life does go on. Doing something in Ben’s memory and keeping his goodness alive through us, is what we felt guided to do even through tragedy. We decided to share our story. Our efforts to reach out to others, in turn has helped us. We have learned we will survive even though some days are harder than others. We have learned that many suffer from depression and anxiety disorders. We have met others who have contemplated suicide or are survivors of an attempted suicide. We have encountered people left behind ten, twenty or thirty years ago from the devastation of a loved ones suicide and they have yet to open up and talk about it. There are so many stories, so many broken people that need to be heard, that want to share, to know they are not alone. We are here to listen and support you without judgment. We know that when tears are shed, healing occurs. It is our desire to help others find more happiness then tears from the memories of their loved ones, who lost their lives to suicide. To cherish the beautiful memories instead of focusing on the act that ended their life. It is our desire to let those of you who are struggling know, there is help out there and others do care. We want people to know that SUICIDE IS A PERMANENT SOLUTION TO A TEMPORARY SITUATION. We don’t wish this despair on anyone.
We give thanks to God for blessing us with Benjamin for the 27 years we shared with him on this earth. We look forward to the nudges in life to guide us on where we go from here. We are trusting in God’s plan as we go forward offering support and encouragement to others…
Because Everyone Needs Some Hope.
The Meaning Behind The Name
The story of how I came up with the name for our organization is not a long one, but I believe it is significant. I feel Ben helped me think of the name. We were putting together the walk in Ben’s honor and I also knew we were going to make a website. Ben was always our computer guy, so I know he would have wanted a hand in it. When we were trying to come up with a name for Ben’s organization I thought of what we were trying to do for other people. To give hope. The acronym for Ben’s name came to me Because Everyone Needs Some HOPE not only for our family, but for everyone.Terry (Ben’s Dad)