In the Quiet.


In the quiet, comes the grief.

In the wind in the backyard. In the sink washing dishes. In the lighting of a candle. In his huge, unbelievable absence.

I was alone today for the first time since…I really don’t remember. Michael and Banyan had errands to run in preparation for our private committal of Benjamin’s body this weekend. I had plenty to do, with plans for our community memorial service in Sarasota March 4th (details to come), finalizing Benjamin’s obituary, going over invoices, choosing readings, making sure the death certificate is accurate. It all seemed so strange.

Being alone wasn’t a bad thing. In the quiet, comes the grief, and I welcomed it. When it hurts so much I think my chest will crack is when I feel him the closest, when I can almost–almost–see his bare feet carrying him into the kitchen, tiptoeing him upward to see what he can see.

People have been so incredibly, deeply, genuinely kind to us, in big ways and small. We launched The Benjamin Gilkey Fund for Innovative Pediatric Cancer Research this morning, and a few hours later the Foundation office was swimming in donations. We received so many thoughtful words today, in cards, gifts, and sweet gestures. The kindness is such a testament to Benjamin’s imprint on those who knew him.

Tonight, Banyan asked to have a friend over, no doubt feeling the imbalance without his constant companion. He wanted to go play trivia with his buddy at a local restaurant. I was petrified, not at all ready to go out in public at a place that always involves a chance encounter–but I sucked it up. Banyan was so excited and Michael and I would do anything to make him happy right now. The evening was a success; we didn’t run into anyone we knew, and I only cried once, without being seen. When we asked for the check, we were told it was taken care of. Unbelievable kindness.

I don’t know how long I’ll keep writing. Perhaps until Benjamin’s services have ended. Perhaps not. I don’t know what I would do without this space. Every night I am able to find the gratitude here. Tonight, I am grateful for the goodness of our village, and for the memory of sweet, eager, tiptoed feet on the kitchen floor.

48 thoughts on “In the Quiet.

    1. I agree. Have you read “One Thousand Gifts”? You remind me of the author Ann Voskamp. Your words are beautiful. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours. God bless

  1. Your precious words tell us how to pray. Write as long as you need. Know that absolutely countless friends are supporting you in a myriad of ways, each unto his/her own. Continued prayers and love to you ~

  2. your courage stops me in my tracks each night. reading your words, sometimes over and over, gives me pause, helps me remember my own lost ones, and reminds me to practice gratitude as well. thank you for sharing your heart and soul; your journey. all warm, loving energy and peace coming your way.

  3. My sweet precious Laura. I have no words that can express to you what your blog has meant to so many people. You truly have no idea what a gift you have given. I know we have spoken of this briefly, but your beautiful eloquent words have touched the lives of so many. I am so grateful to have been allowed to be a part of this journey because of you. I am so Grateful to be your Aunt. I am so grateful that everyday I can read your beautiful words and feel you strength that lifts me up and so many others. I am grateful that you are Benji’s and Banyon’s mother. God knew what he was doing with that fit. And I am grateful for the future for you and your precious family with what you are doing to honor Benji. You are truly a force to reckoned with and I mean that in the most loving way.

    All my love my sweet ……

    See you soon

    1. The gift she has shared with all of us. It’s the 2nd thing i reach for each day is her words of strength and courage and such deep love. 772 days of the most intense love story for sweet Benji. Turn your journal into a book. It has been life changing for all of us that have followed her fight for her family’s life!! Thank you from the deepest part of my soul.

  4. Please keep writing. Through your words we learn about our own journey, too. Your words shine thru the cracks. We’re listening.

    1. I Agree whole heartedly. Your writing shines a bright light and I hope that it becomes an outlet for you to now express your grief. Even if not daily, perhaps weekly so that you continue to feel a connection to those who care so deeply for your family <3

  5. Laura you are a master writer. As an avid reader, all I keep thinking is that through your journey, you have touched and will touch more people than you know. Namaste.

  6. Your journey has touched me beyond words. I continue to hold your precious family in my thought and in my prayers. Your beautiful Benjamin must be so proud of his loving mother. I will donate to your cause in hopes that we can find a cure for this horrible disease that is robbing us of the precious children, such as your Benjamin. Sending you a heartfelt hug.

  7. Dear Laura,
    I read your every post, and as I do, I shed tears also. I sit here now, thinking of you and Benji and Michael and Banyan, and I send you my love -my mother’s and grandmother’s love. I only met you once – that more happy night sitting next to you at the John Prine concert. Your words and your pure and raw love and grief are an example to me and to all of what it is truly like to be human. If you write it, I will read it, and cherish it in my heart. Holding you in the light. Wishing I could absorb some of your pain, and take it on for you. . . . Mary

  8. Please keep writing. I’ll keep reading. I’m in Lakewood Ranch. So close to you. I have cried along with you as I read these posts. No mother should ever have to go through this. I’m praying for you. I would love to help your family in any way possible. God bless you and your beautiful family.

  9. You are an amazing writer, Laura! I feel like it’s a wonderful outlet for you too. Your words touch me and many to the core. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we see a book from you. 🙂
    So much love and light for you and your precious family. <3

  10. You have an unbelievable gift with words. I know a Memoir is forthcoming about your sweet Benjamin’s life and journey. I will read every word. Bless you today and always.

  11. Laura your writing has gotten me through so much lately. I feel that I need to read your writing every night as I get ready for bed. As my mom (aunt Lorraine) said in her post, you make me laugh, and I cry along with you. You make your readers feel like a part of your life. I do need your words and wisdom. Please don’t stop writing Laura. Always thinking of you and your family.
    Needing your words always,
    Your cousin Lorra

  12. Benjis journey and the writings you’ve shared are going to chance the world. I hope that you continue to chronicle the enormous impact on the world that you all are making…God forbid my cancer ever come back I feel educated, empowered and more courageous and should it not…these writings have made me a better mom and have shown me gratitude I never knew I missing. This is a mighty village..keep lifting and directing them ❤️

  13. Grief is something that I have found to now be a part of my life. It is not something one gets over it becomes part of your soul. Grief is ever evolving. My thoughts are with you, Michael and Banyon. Hang on to each other and allow those beautiful memories stay with you.
    Much love ❤️

  14. Writing is where you seem to have found your solace…..your inner peace….your quiet…..your strength. You will know if and when to cease writing…….for now, it seems to give you what you need. You will know……

  15. I don’t know you, but I have followed your posts through mutual friends. You write beautifully and openly about such a deep and personal matter. I cry every time I read one of your entries. They have been a gift, reminding me to wake up and be present and loving and grateful in this fleeting moment called life. I am a little softer with my children and my husband when I am in that space. Thank you, and blessings to you and your family.

  16. Yes very well said, if you write it, I will read it. You have helped me tremendously with my feelings regarding my grandson, Ethan’s, cancer and the recent death of my father for which I was the caregiver. Bless you strong, brave lady!

  17. Eventually, a day may come where you find you have nothing more to say, and that’s OK. It’s all part of the healing process. But until then, we’ll be here to read anything you wish to share with us.

  18. Whatever you feel moved to do, Laura, is certainly the right decision. Of all the folks I have been so blessed to encounter in my life, you are certainly one of the most thoughtful, spiritual, beautiful, and centered. You will certainly know what you need to do, and if taking a break for a while gives you peace , as was said above, anytime you put your thoughts back to written words, you will have a very grateful reading audience who appreciates and adores you. You are in my thoughts with love and peace throughout each day, mother to mother. This may sound crazy, but sometimes, through your telling of Benjamin\’s and your family story, your expression has reminded me of a mother lion, shaking the universe with your visceral voice. Thank you for being a living force for love. It means so much.

  19. It is true that you have shared more than words with us all, that we have all lived more fully because you shared your heart. But you will make the decision that is best for you. It is healthy to give yourself permission to grieve in whatever way you need to. I love you, and my prayer for you is that you keep the courage and hope you daily held for Benji for yourself, in whatever format you choose to manifest it. I will not pretend it is easy. My heart breaks for you daily and I know your heart will break daily too. Wrapping you in rainbow prism light.

  20. Your writing is amazing and gives a reminder to the world that we can always always always find gratitude and goodness every day. You just do whatever you need to do to for your soul. We will be here either way- writing or not ❤

  21. Your writing gives us all a lesson in strength and grace. We are here to share in you grief and lift you up!

  22. Laura,
    You write words for those who cannot.
    Your gift of honesty and clarity might be a branch for a lost parent or child to perch on even if only for a moment of peace.
    I do hope you continue to write somewhere.
    Much love to you and Michael and Banyan.

  23. Please keep writing. I will keep coming back. Your writing hits everyone on so many levels. We all want to grieve with you and then uplift you and your family.

  24. I know I do not know you, but your story hits me in such a way I cant not explain. My daughter attends Southside Elementary School. I am a single mother of 5 and I cry every time I read your writings. You are such an incredibly strong woman. I don’t know how I could endure the feelings you describe and still be so strong. I am here for you, we are all here for you. You are an inspiration to all, at the saddest of times you bring in light, not because there is no pain but because that what your sweet boy would want. I am so sorry. If writing is what brings you peace then continue for years to come. I will be here reading your journey. I wish you much love and peace.

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