Day 772/144

Benjamin Wilson Gilkey December 22, 2007 – February 11, 2017


I knew that Benjamin would die today. I knew that I would walk outside and feel the Florida February sunshine on my skin, and he wouldn’t, and I would feel guilty. Then I knew that he wouldn’t need the skin. He is the sunshine now. 

We kept the music playing as we all tried to sleep last night. It didn’t come easy for any of us. I held Benjamin’s hand and felt his beautiful, pulsing energy as I finally drifted off. His oxygen needs escalated throughout the night, maximizing the capacity of his oxy-mask and causing us to switch to a non-rebreather. We knew it wouldn’t be long. We listened and labored with Benjamin as his chest rose and fell.

He worked so hard this morning. He tried to lift his body up even as we were begging him to relax, even as the jaundice was setting in and his eyes were bulging with yellow. There is no one, ever, in the history of the world, that was a tougher fighter than this kid. He tried so hard. We were begging him to let go, and I’m so thankful that he finally did, after Versed and Ativan and Dilaudid didn’t cut it. It was his decision. His hands grew cold and rainbows danced around the room as his sweet spirit left his body. Banyan lay his head on his brother’s chest and said, I hope you have some good dreams. And just like that, he was gone.

I was surprised that my first reaction to my son’s departure was bliss. Once I realized his heart stopped beating, I kept saying, I’m so happy for you. I’m so happy for you. He did it. No more pain. Only love.

Then, when Dr. Moore came in to pronounce Benjamin dead–the same physician who pronounced him sick–I felt certain I would pass out.

I stayed to wash his body, which was getting colder and more stiff by the moment. When our sweet nurse helped turn him over, I was given the gift of warmth along his back. I pressed my face into it. I anointed it with oil. I tried to impress its contours inside my memory, forever.

The nurses gave us Benjamin’s final Beads of Courage, and helped us pack our bags. When all of our things were out of our room, and Michael and Banyan had said their final words, I stood over my son’s body. I was quiet for many minutes. I finally decided on I love you, and thank you, and left in waves of tears. On the way to the elevator, Banyan rang the bell for his brother. He is finished. His work here is done.

When the doors to Michael’s truck closed, and we knew we had to drive home, we were brave. When we pulled into our driveway, and we knew he would not be there, we were brave. He showed us how.

Banyan was so tearful. We all gathered around videos and pictures and tried to keep memories alive. We loved and laughed with each other. I gave into the moans and wails when they needed to come. I am begging now to remember the smell of his skin for the rest of my days.

We have contacted our spiritual advisory council and plans are being made to honor this boy as we lay him to rest. I am trying not to think about the years I won’t have with him, but instead remember the years we had together. Beyond any of the pain I am feeling is a sensation of deep pride and love. We did it. We saw him through. And we will miss him so, so much.



169 thoughts on “Day 772/144

    1. Laura Michael and Baynan. . My heart is with all of you tonight but especially with Benjamin. His life is an inspiration and I will hold on to his gift forever. I wish I could offer you solace however realize it is not possible. Our family is thinking and praying for you and yours and hope for strength. If I could offer one thing tonight it would be a warm hug to all of you. ❤. Laura. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing this journey.

    2. My heart felt sympathy to Michael, Laura, and Banyan! You all are incredible in your own way and made Benji’s short life on earth amazing with so much love and support. Thank you so much Laura for sharing this remarkable and inspirational journey. My prayers are with each of you! RIP Benjamin!

  1. I only recently began to follow your sweet son’s story, but .your beautiful words…and Benjamin’s incredible, brave journey have touched me more than you know. Thank you for sharing with us. <3 Your Benjamin is inspiring me to be brave in my difficulties as well. Thank you. So much love for your family during this difficult time.

  2. The phrase Rest in Peace is not appropriate for this sweet boy. He is dashing about, soaring, free of pain. There are giggles in heaven right now. You’ll see him again.

  3. His spirit will always be there. Free of pain, and knowing how much love the world has for him. Sending my love ♡

  4. I know no words to speak. I can only send prayers that all your days are filled with fondest memories of your son. May his rainbow fill your soul.

  5. Sending love to all of you from everyone at Bradford. We have always tried to keep up with Benji’s treatment and how everyone was doing. Prayer’s for all of you, Benji is out of pain! Such sadness and relief at the same time…….

  6. Thank you for sharing this amazing love story with us. You have all been in my heart for the past week. I am so sorry. Benji touched our hearts and will always be remembered and deeply loved.

  7. “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” -Thucydides
    Shine on Benjamin! You and your family have taught us all the true meaning of bravery!
    Holding all of you in the light! May peace and love surround you always!

  8. I thought of him as I crossed the Sunshine Skyway tonight and saw the moon gloriously shining on the bay. Now I know he was IN that moonlight and it was beautiful. So much love to all of you.

  9. I only recently began to read of your journey with Benji. I can not even begin to explain how much you have impacted me as a person and most of all as a mom, and my family too. As I sit here with a tear stained face I want to thank you for sharing your experience with us all. I think I see where Benji got his bravery from. As I read your daily blogs I realized I was seeing grace. Such amazing grace at such a tragic time. Your family is an inspiration. I have been praying for all of you so very much and I will continue to do so as you find your way through the grief of Benji’s passing.

  10. Prayers and love to you all. He was a very brave boy and such a fighter. He is at peace now and pain free.

  11. As I read this post I think of the bravest family I have come to know through your story. I have read hundreds and will finish the rest. Thank you for sharing your family with everyone. May peace and love connect you with Benjamin the Brave in the days, weeks and years to come.

  12. Laura, Michael, and Banyan, yours was one admirable journey, in tandem with love, prayers, grace, and a huge gift– Benji’s daily struggles of triumph and pain. The path you have traveled is something no one would wish for another, and I am so honored to bear witness to all you have been through. I am so very sorry for your loss of Benjamin. All I can do is send you love light, peace, and the hope that when you think of Benji you can smile as you remember the joy through the tears of his body not being here living. Life with you physically. Love to you all.

  13. Love and praying for the three of you. Followed the story if Benjamin for the last few weeks and have so appreciated you bravery in writing your thoughts and feelings and events of each day. You are a brave woman and I know your strength and bravery was transmitted to Benji and Banyan and Michael through this journey. God give you His grace and peace and assurance that you did well. May His blessings shower you all.

  14. Benji’s sweet vibrant spirit-print will continue to warm our hearts long after today….and our love, arms, ears; whatever else we can give you Gilkey Family, we humbly and super sincerely place at your feet. XOXOXO

  15. He will always be with you, Now he is the shiniest star in the sky, watching all of you falling to sleep.
    Benji the brave, had shown us and taught us more than you can ever imagine, his story told by you will always stay with us. Thank you for sharing, and our prayers, positive energy and love surround all of you to help you to find peace.

  16. I have only had a short time to follow your story and it
    has changed my life forever. The strength and admiration
    that I have for you, Benjamin and your family is immeasurable. Your little boy is an inspiration to us all and if I can live my life with the courage and grace that you both have shown I will be a lucky person. I will continue to remember and think of you often and just know that Benjamin is living it up in Heaven and we will see him again!! God bless you all.

  17. surrounding you all with so much love. i can feel Benji free and dancing and happy. be gentle with yourself, sweet sister.

  18. Bento the brave’s story has touched so many. Thank you for sharing your journey so incredibly honestly. Bennie and your family have spread love to all who have read about him. God bless.

  19. I don’t know you and your family, but I feel so much love for you all. I’m so sorry for your loss, but im thankful your sweet boy is no longer suffering. You may not feel it now, but you are such a brave strong mama bear. I can’t imagine what this is to you and your family. Sending you so much love and late and healing energy. If there is any way to send something in honor of your brave boy, plz let us know.

  20. The stars will be brighter tonight. Benjamin’s spirit soars and you all are in the hearts and prayers of so many who are lucky enough to know and love you… What an amazing family. Blessings to you all. Xo

  21. There just aren’t words to express the heartbreak I am feeling for you. Please know I am thinking of you nonstop. Sending all my love and prayers.

  22. Your courage, love and vulnerability to share your story has deeply and profoundly impacted me. I can’t imagine the pain for you and your family. Oh how much we can learn from our children – especially such a shining star like Benjamin. You and your family have made such a difference. Thank you.

  23. We are so very sorry for your family’s loss. Benji was
    a remarkable boy in every way. Thank you Laura
    for so gracefully sharing your family’s journey with
    everyone. As I read this post thru tears to my son Spencer
    he said “do you think that unusually bright star tonight
    is Benji?” Yes, buddy that star is definitely Benji.

  24. So much love to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your boy with us. He has touched my heart more than I can say. I am so so sorry you had to go through this and I am in complete awe of the grace in which you all did. Prayers for peace and comfort as you learn to live without your Benji. ❤❤❤

  25. All my love to you Laura and Michael and Banyon. You are all so amazing and brave. and you have to know how much you are loved by Family and friends. What a wonderful gift you have given to all of us letting us participate in the journey with you. I know I have felt every emotion, not only because of how much I love all of you, but because of your WORDS. I am so proud of you and the work you all have done. and What an amazing boy you raised. I am praying for sweet peace for all of you. Know how much you are loved. I hope to see you soon.

  26. Our thoughts will remain with you all and Benji. What an amazing spirit and inspiration Benji is and will always be. Peace and love.

  27. Oh Lord, my heart is breaking for this family… for the loss of dear Benji, for his brother, Banyan, and his mother and father… I grieve for them. This is unbelievable sorrow. Hold them God, for I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child. Please comfort them with Your Touch and Your Presence, Jesus. Give this family courage and help them in their pain and grief.

    Jesus, welcome this child, so precious in Your sight. This very sweet and brave boy. Take Benjamin into Your arms and bring him into Heaven, where there will be no weeping nor pain, but the fullness of peace and joy forever and ever. Please let him be flying and laughing with angels tonight. Amen

  28. The story of you family has touched in so many ways, beyond words.
    I pray for this beautiful boy knowing that he is at peace. I pray for your family that you will find the peace to continue on without Benji The Brave. My thoughts are with your beautiful family.

  29. Praying for your amazing family, Benjamin will watch over all of you always. We are so sorry for your loss, Benjamin has touched many lives, even if we don’t know you personally, you’ll always be in our prayers.

  30. ❤️️Thank you for sharing Benjamin with us. He touched many lives with his journey. My heart aches for all of you and I can only offer prayer and a consoling word. He will never be forgotten!

  31. I feel the spirit of benji and for you. I know he fought for you and your acknowleding his ascention to glory means so much to him. I’ve seen this process so many times and my admiration for you and your tribe has no words. There is no greater love than what you all provided for him and his comfort. I said it already but it bears repeating… You ALL are amazing. Sending you love and light always Laura.

  32. My heart aches but rejoices as well. I know he is dancing and playing free of pain now, but of coarse, here on Earth we hurt so bad. Your family has been amazingly brave, honest and loving. Thank you for sharing your Benji with us. He has been a gift in my life. I pray for peace and happiness to continue to fill your hearts. For lack of better words, I love y’all.

  33. Lauren, Michael, Banyan, I know your pain my family and I were where you are exactlya month ago when our angel Misha just like Benji lost her fight to cancer. There are no words to express our sympathy or to make you feel better. I do want to thank you for putting into words so eloquently what my family and many other couldn’t. You are so brave and such and inspiration. You are right treasure and think of the wonderful memories. The only advice I can give you don’t live in the last few days live in all the wonderful memories that preceded. May God bless you and your family and help you find peace and acceptance.

  34. You have our deepest sympathy. Thank you for sharing your beautiful son with the world. You did the good hard things so well. May your dreams take you to the blissful deep and you see him there, whole again, and free.

  35. Benji will be in my heart forever. I hope you feel the love and prayers surrounding your family. Your beautiful brave boy will always be with you. How lucky he was to have you and how lucky you were to have him. ❤️

  36. ❤ & light sweet Gilkey family
    “One day the sun admitted
    I am just a shadow.
    I wish I could show you
    The infinite incandescence
    That has cast my brilliant image!
    I wish I could show you,
    When you are lonely or in darkness,
    The Astonishing Light
    Of your own Being!”

  37. So sorry to hear this news but also feel relief for you. I’m friends with Karen and Shawna and have been following your story since they shared it. I’ve cried for you many days in the past week or so. ((Hugs and love)) from one mom to another.

  38. Sending lots of love and strength for the days to come. I have stood exactly where you stand today. My 7-year old son died on Christmas Day 2015. Life has never been the same. It will take time (a LONG time as I am still learning), but you will learn how to keep living. Honoring your little boy. You are right that he is surrounded by love and light. Watch for his signs to remind you he is still here with you. I crave mine. Keep sharing your story! I have found blogging to be an amazing outlet for healing and helping others. You will hear from many bereaved mothers in the days to come. I know I did. However, if you want to talk to one that understands and can listen…please do reach out.

  39. I only recently began to follow your story,and while my heart is so very heavy for your family, I am so appreciative for the gift you have given with your words. Benji\’s journey has touched me deeply, and I feel blessed to have been able to learn about such a remarkable boy. You all will be in my prayers, and may peace and love surround you.

  40. I am so sorry. I feel truly blessed to have gotten to know you and Benji. He has touched so many people and will never be forgotten. Whenever I see a rainbow I will think of him and smile . May God hold you and your family in his arms forever.

  41. To the Gilkey family, after a long 12 hours of working as a nurse where I take care of new moms and new little baby boys and girls, I happened to come across someone who shared your story and felt compelled to read your story of your amazing and brave child even though I didnt know him. As a nurse and someone who has watched the dying process, I felt compassion for your family and felt somehow I needed to continue reading . So although I wept at times and my husband walked into the room and asked me ” what are you looking at and why are you crying “, I read the last 8days of Benjamin’s story. And as I lay my head down for the night I will pray for Benjamin and know he is shining among those big bright stars along side the big bright full moon tonight. Prayers for you and your family!!

  42. I started following Benjamin’s story, recently. I feel so privileged and honoured to have been able to do so. My heart is with all of you, and Benjamin. He was a warrior. May he rest in blissful peace.

  43. I’ve only had the opportunity to read your last few posts, but I can tell you have been on a very long journey with your gorgeous son. I am in school now to work in funeral services and helping people like your wonderful family is why. You’re meaningful messages are full of inspiration and courage not of this world! You and your family handled this in such a beautiful and eloquent way that has just gripped my heart. I thank you so very deeply for being brave enough to share such an intimate part of your lives. I hope that as each day comes to pass your hearts mend a little more, and your son will forever be with you in your heart and dreams.

  44. I love you so much my sweet Laura! You are truly one of the most magnificent people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Benji’s time here was too short but in those 9 short years, he was given and gave more love than many people know in a lifetime. Holding you all close in my heart and sending all my love to you! ❤

  45. Dearest Gilkey family,

    I hold you (all) in my heart from the frozen tundra of MI. Your eloquent words about Benjamin’s journey and his character stand out to me.–they have helped me offer witness to your beautiful boy. I’m glad that you wrote feeling bliss and relief as he released energy into the Universe. Perhaps it is his final living gift to you, his Mama, and your gift to him.

    You did a good job, Mama and Dad. Be proud of your efforts together as a family.

    Om Shanti. Blessed Be. Amen.


  46. O dear Laura, Michael, Banyon the Strong, and grandparents: thank you for sharing the Light, Might and Love that was and is Benjamin. Your story is familiar, as my daughter, Leah, died after a long journey with cancer several years ago. Tonight, so many stars are out and the snow moon is bright. Leah was a teacher who loved to dance; I imagine our babies are celebrating as stars, pain-free, and true spirits of Love. My love, comfort and belief are with you as you make your way through next minutes, hours, and days, with Benjamin the Brave’s spirit free and always loving you.

  47. What a gift your family has had in loving each other so fully these years. My heart mourns with you all and I’m holding you close in my thoughts and prayers.

  48. “I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
    spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
    for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
    I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
    of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

    Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”

    Gone where?

    Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
    hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
    And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
    Her diminished size is in me — not in her.

    And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
    there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
    ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”

    And that is dying.”

  49. I am so terribly sorry. I will never forget Benji. He taught me more than I could ever teach him. Know that our family will always be here for your beautiful family.

  50. You are all so brave. Thank you for sharing your story and the strength of your family. Benji is now the hero that will forever watch over his beloved family. May you have peace and comfort in the days, months and years ahead of you.

  51. You have done what no family ever wants to do but what every family wants to do well when they need to. And you have taught us all so much through your love, pain, joys, and sadness. May you take some comfort in knowing we will forever feel Benjamin-love in every rainbow and that many are changed by you allowing us into his life story. Love to you all.

  52. I felt him leave yesterday… A huge orange sun over a snowy hill made this long threadl of a rainbow sunbeam that extended from the horizon like a thick cord to me and then I felt happy bright feeling and thought it must be Benji, and felt he must have died, then ‘You must be an Angel’ came on. Prayers and love, blessings on his soul and the hearts of all who love him and will miss him forever. Love you.

  53. I have been following Benjamin’s story on Facebook, through mutual friends. He is a strong, brave soul that came to you as a child, and you gave him all the love and support he needed. And you did good, mama. You helped your child through the most difficult transition imaginable. <3

  54. Although I have never met you, Benjamin or the rest of your family, I want to say I am so sorry for your loss. I have been following over the last couple weeks through a friend. There are no words that will help your family heal any sooner. Although I wish all of our words and encouragement could take away your pain. I do pray that it helps. Hugs and prayers for your family.

  55. Benjamin’s legacy will live on. Through your blogs, I Have been deeply touched, through your grief and bravery and that of your family, and especially Benjamin, I am changed. I hold my children even closer, and love so much more than I thought was possible. I hope we meet someday; you are an inspiration, and I’m sure Benjamin a spirit lives on within you and banyan and Michael. We don’t know each other, yet… but I hope you and your family find peace in these next hours, days, months and years to come. Your Sarasota community loves you very much

  56. We are grateful Gilkey family.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and making us stronger.
    We will never forget Benji.

  57. You have traveled a difficult journey and showed the world how to accept this thing that is so unfair – you have shared Benjamin’s battle and done it with love and grace. My heart is heavy and I hope time will help you focus on the beautiful memories you have of your son’s short time on earth. May he Rest In Peace and shower sunshine and love upon you all.

  58. Thank you Laura,, Michael & Banyan for sharing Benji with us through his incredible battle. You have been my daily inspiration. The love you have (have not had) for Benji is so blinding evident that we can’t help but be in love with him too. He is flying high now, watching over his beautiful family, shining down his love on you everyday. Sending you all much love, and prayers for peace and comfort.
    Good job Banyan ringing the bell for your brother! He has won the battle, he is healed ❤️

  59. We have never met but I want you to know that I (and quite a few friends) woke up every morning and checked in on your son’s progress as our first action of the morning. And we thought of him — and prayed for him — many more times during the day.

    The community you have built is here now to help shoulder the burden. And we will watch this space as you manifest your intention to help other children with cancers — and be there for you again.

  60. Benjamin has shown us what true bravery is. Your family has shown us what true grace and strength are. We are sending love and prayers. You now have a fantastic guardian angel. May you feel the love that surrounds you.

  61. Michael, Laura, and Benjamin – I wanted to let you know that we are keeping you in our thoughts and uplifting you in our prayers as you go through this journey! We met y’all in the Virgin Islands at Matt and Jaimes wedding, and have seen Gilkey since with Matt at some Gator games here and there… We just want you to know that we are thinking of you and we are truly praying for peace and guidance as you walk your way through this difficult time. Much love from our families to you.

    Love – Kirk & Jan Wurster and Amanda & John Kitchens

  62. Praying for your family to have the courage to be braver as you face this mountain of grief, and life without one piece of your family by your physical side. Thank you for sharing your son in words and pictures.

  63. Laura, Michael and Banyan,
    Thank you for sharing Benji. Through your writing you’ve inspired so much awareness and touched deeply so many.
    You are the voice for Benji and all other courageous fighters and families.

    We will honor Benji in all our works of awareness for pediatric cancer and look forward to the day when we can give you support in person. I am touched by Banyan’s symbolic gesture of ringing the bell for Benji. He is healed, not on earth, but in heaven. Prayers of peace and comfort from our family to yours. Laura, Scott and Cole Eicher

  64. Dear Laura, Michael and Banyan- we do not know your family but have had you in our thoughts daily since we started reading your posts. The pain we feel for Benjamin’s passing is real. We are truly sorry for your loss… May the strength and love you so beautifully portrayed in your words carry you through the next phase… our family will continue to think of you daily….

  65. Laura I wanted to thank you for sharing Benjamin’s journey. You have touched me so deeply. You have taught me to be a better parent. By parenting with more love and gratitude. I thank you for that. Peace be with your beautiful boy and your family..

  66. Laura, like many who have followed your blogs, I was never able to meet Benji. However, his story through your beautiful words have impacted me so strongly, especially a mom. Benji’s courage and your grace have moved so many. My prayers are with your beautiful family.

  67. Tears of grief for you and with you. I followed your fight and now your empty heaarts My condolences on your loss, I can’t find the words to express my feelings.
    I admire you for your courage, may memories comfort you and Benjamin’s journey continue in peace and light.

  68. I started following your story recently and I have to say the strength and courage you all have shown has been inspirational. Your words have made me hug my own children tighter and enjoy each moment more. I can’t express to you how sorry I am for your loss. There just aren’t words for this. I know you will all be together again.

  69. Laura, Michael and Banyan- words can not express the sorrow and pain we feel for the loss of your Benjamin. With our deepest sympathy, the Lambert family.

  70. Infinitely blessed + changed by your sharing of this most intimate Love. Thank you for allowing us to witness the magnificence of Benjamin’s journey and your family’s devotion and loving presence throughout. All Love + Peace be with you

  71. I know the feeling of walking outside on a beautiful day and thinking my son will never be able to feel the sun on his face again. I’ve never heard anyone else express that. It does become bearable. Take all the time you need.

  72. I have a special needs daughter. Following your journey with Bejamin this last week has shown me how I can be a better momma to her. You, Laura, have become an example of pure grace and love under the most unthinkable of circumstances. I will forever remember Benjamin, not just because of his braveness and warrior stance in the face of death, but because of your ability to share and love in the middle of it all. Thank you….❤

  73. Benjamin’s gorgeous curls, amazing smile and beautifully kind spirit will be with us absolutely forever. We mourn for your loss and trust he is shining brightly in heaven’s rays that bring great warmth. With much love and sympathy, Maria & Ryan Sokol

  74. Bless u and all the support that u did to get ur child through the roughness of sickness.I am so sorry for ur loss. I will be praying for u and family.

  75. I can’t stop crying. Following your journey from the beginning i kept u all in my prayers..hoping…praying. I am so very sorry for your loss. Sending love and white light and healing positive enrrgies. Candles lit. Nlessi gs to you!! I know that your sweet boy surrounds uou…his spirit is never ending and see all…hears all and will never leave you. PEACE.

  76. May God surround you with strength as you walk through the days ahead. I do not personally know you or Benji but I know your story and light a candle for you. May the rainbows continue to find their way into the darkest of any moments. God couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful family for this sweet boy, who’s hair was lke an angel’s to love, teach and walk with him for the short time he had on this earth. My head will bow today in sorrow, but is guided to peek among the clouds for your special rainbow. Deus tecum.

  77. Unimaginable journey; the pain and heartbreak balanced by the extraordinary strength and perfect love your family has for one another. Benji\’s work on earth is complete, his short life was profoundly meaningful and awakening. Benji\’s \”story,\” along with your beautifully written words have touch lives both near and far. Benji\’s spirit will soar now, his brave and courageous story continuing his work – eternally.
    Our hearts are with you as you begin your new journey.

  78. Laura, Michael and Banyan, you will be in my thoughts for a very long time about this. Laura, you did everything you could possibly do; gave your heart and soul to help him until the very last moment. Benji the Brave lives on, as you know, in spirit form and lives on in all of us who have been impacted by his journey. Sending you love…

  79. God bless you all! My heartfelt sympathy and love for each and all of you! I am praying diligently! Rest in peace sweet Benji! Jesus, I trust in you to walk this journey with this family!

  80. Fair winds and following seas Benji. Your courage and bravery in the face of this damned disease has been an inspiration to us all. Your journey became our journey, your fight became our fight. Laura, Michael, and Banyan, you are in my thoughts and prayers. I will hold fast to my memories and celebrate the life of the braves person I’ve ever known. I love you all.

  81. My sincerest condolences on the transition of your beautiful boy. Thank you sharing the heart felt and arduous journey with us.
    My prayers for all of you at this difficult time.
    Anne Buchalski

  82. We are so sorry for your heartbreaking, unimaginable loss!
    Thank you for sharing this journey and reminding us to be thankful for life and health!
    Know that you are in our hearts.

  83. Love & prayers to all of you! Thank you for sharing such an intimate and sacred journey. Benji and all his family are an inspiration. May the love of God envelop you and with His comfort and healing. I thank God for Benji and his life.

  84. Thank you for sharing your family’s journey. You have had our good thoughts and now you have our sympathies.
    I am not normally one to see signs, but my husband and I both saw the green flash at the siesta sunset last night. First time in my life. I came home to read about Benji’s passing and was physically struck by your statement that he is the sun now. He made his presence known last night. Much love to you all.

  85. My deepest and most sincere condolences for you and your family. Praise and contentment for Benji the Brave who is no longer in pain but shining like the brightest rainbow in the sky. He was so blessed to have you there with him through it all, as you were blessed to share in his life. Now, you have been given the task to continue shining for him here on earth. Even though you can’t see or touch the sun, it is always there just like Benji will always be there for you, wrapping you in his warmth and love.

  86. I have been following your writings and Benjamin’s story since another fellow high school classmate began sharing them. I am so heartbroken for you and am touched by your words and the beautiful way you chose to share your sweet boy and your family with the world. Your statement that he IS the sunshine now is just beautiful. Much love to you, your husband and your son as you continue to bask in that very special sunshine.

  87. So much love. My heart breaks with you and your family. Thank you for sharing your strength and your families story. I am grateful to have read
    Your words and felt of Benji and Banyan bravery. Thank you for inspiring me to find hope and love through my sons own cancer journey. Benji is a hero and always will be.

  88. I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for allowing us into your lives to take this “journey” with you. We will be praying for you and your family in the coming days, weeks and months. Blessings to you all, Joe & Sarah Christiansen & family, North Dakota

  89. I’m so very sorry. Thank you for sharing Benjamin’s journey.. I am a hospice nurse and I have cried and cried because of his struggles and bravery.
    I have been holding my own children so much tighter… It saddens me that he is gone, but I know that it is better for him to be at peace finally. He fought harder than most adults will ever have to. You are a strong mother and thank you for sharing his story.

  90. Laura, Banyan, and Michael,

    The world is wrapping our arms around you in warm love and bright light as Benji soars free.

  91. I’m so deeply sorry. I don’t know you or your family, just recently stumbled upon Benjamin’s story through a friend who commented, which I then saw on my Facebook feed. I followed the link, only to see how much your Benji reminds me of my oldest, Logan…Only two days younger than your son. Through your words which describe your loving, caring, warm family…I have held my son closer, feeling guilty for the times I have taken for granted.
    Thank you for sharing, and again, I am so so sorry for this tremendous loss. Please know you all are on my thoughts and prayers…Prayers for peace and for healing, however that has to happen.

  92. You all have been so strong …Benjamin is free from pain today and I know that it has to give you peace knowing that !! My prayers and well wishes are with all of you may you all live and love through and for Benjamin today, tomorrow and forever !! Fly high Benjamin I know ther heavens are happy your home !!

  93. Your family has exquisitely and honestly displayed the concept of grace and love. You have written with a wisdom not often seen in this world, and your blog has given me much to reflect on and process, and the lessons Benjamin’s passing can teach us all. You held the space sacred around Benjamin when he became more ill, as you did when he was growing inside you, and honored his journey home, focusing on love, comfort, respect and dignity. Benjamin was blessed in this life that you were his family, and he will be blessed in his new spirit journey until you see each other again.. God Bless the Gilkey family and I am praying for your sweet boy, and all of you. ((((Hugs))))

  94. dear laura, michael and baynan, my heart has held each word here for the past two weeks in deep sorrow for you and all of your loss of your Benjamin. i am so sorry for your heartache and loss and deep grief. i am so sorry. the way you have loved and cared for Benjamin and each other is heart achingly true and real and all things love. pls know i am thinking of you daily with love and care and tenderness for all that you feel and all you have gone through. Ashley.

  95. What a bittersweet love story, written with such grace and elegance. Your brave and beautiful boy will shine his bright light upon you each and every day! I love you all, and wish you peace in your journey that follows.

  96. I just recently started following your journey. Your words are beautiful, full of strength and courage. Sending love and light to you, Micheal, and Banyan.

  97. i don’t know if you will remember me or not but i used to play with benjamin and kendal at banyans soccer games and my brother was on his team and he was so sweet and fun to play with and it breaks my heart to hear that he has passed on 🙁

  98. What a beautiful love story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I believe with all my heart that Benji is watching over you, and you will continue to feel his love until your time comes to join him.

  99. Thank you, Gilkey family, for sharing your strength and these precious moments with us. I hope that you all continue to be surrounded by the sweet memories of your brave Benjamin. We, as your community, will rise up to give the love and support needed through these tough times.

  100. Thank you for sharing Benjamin’s journey, so selflessly and graciously. While I do not your family personally, I cried and sent prayers for your sweet boy. I will continue to pray for your family.. I am inspired by your sweet boy’s bravery and courageousness, as well as his brothers and parents. I will never look at a rainbow again and not think of your amazing boy. Thank you for sharing him with us
    With Love from NY

  101. I have been following your story through my friend on Facebook, Jennifer Auer. I know she has been praying earnestly for your family. Today her prayers were answered. Not the answer she or anyone reading your posts wanted. Thank you for sharing your story and your heart. Your story will help so many other people navigate through the unimaginable. Best to you and your family as you begin this new chapter your son desperately wanted you to write.

  102. My beautiful son passed away on the 11/2/16 after he relapsed, he also had ALL. We had a wonderful 18 years but have felt the pain and loss everyday over the last year. He battled bravely for two years. Our world lost so much beauty and love the day he passed. I feel your families pain and hope you can find some piece and comfort.
    Kindest regards Kerry

  103. Beauty~full folk, sending love & rainbow blessings…. may each colour of the rainbow bring an offering of something that you need in the moment.

    I would love to send a small rainbow gift from Brisbane, Australia, if & when the time is right for you all. I think you will like it. It is simply an offering, absolutely no pressure. Also Petrea King has a heart opening rainbow meditation on her webpage that is free to access.

    With love & sincere thanks, Nic x

  104. As we were driving home last night, the most spectacular sunset I have seen was visible for miles in our rear view window. I kept thinking, “Benji is the sun”, and my heart was with you. Sending so much love to you all.

  105. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time. I just started to follow Benji’s story a couple of weeks ago. It sounds like he was the best little boy ever and like you’re the best Mom ever! I hope you and your family feel the love that we are all sending your way and I hope that Benji continues to inspire all of us…always!

  106. This absolutely took my breath away. I don’t even know how I came across your story but I believe your little boy lives in the hearts of others that know how badly you need to know he’s ok. I loved your feelings of pride…. you are absolutely correct. PRIDE and honor are who we are as mothers. we walk with pride knowing they are ours. So incredibly heartbroken from one mother to another. My thoughts are with you and your family. May your son’s light shine on you now for always.

  107. My heart aches for your family and your loss. I hope memories will keep him alive in your heart forever.

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