We went to a birthday ‘do’ last night at North Bristol rugby club. It was for my friend James and his partner Charlotte. There were a lot of people there because a) people like James and Charlotte and b) people like a party. But there was something else that was very special about the evening. People I knew a little bit a few weeks ago, I now know very well.
If anything illustrates the legacy and spirit of Ben Hiscox, then last night was it. We continue to mourn Ben’s passing every day, none more so than his close family who I am now privileged to regard as friends and friends for life. And his close friends too. Each one a star. I cannot see a room full of villagers without also seeing the image of Ben Hiscox, Dennis Cox (and other, far worse, names!), being deeply implanted in my mind’s eye. I am not a religious man, nor do I belief in the hoax of the paranormal which merely preys on the bereaved and the vulnerable, but I do believe in the enduring spirit of the great and the good. That, as I am quickly learning, is a legacy of love.
My heart aches when I read the social networks because those closest to Ben are still suffering from unimaginable pain. Nothing about his passing makes any sense and it never will. And yet, and yet. I am close to people I barely knew before the accident and even closer to those I didn’t know at all. Talking to people, I know that many people feel the same. I knew Ben Hiscox through the football and the pub and I knew him from the stories people told me about him. I was far from being his best friend but, as I have said before, the man had a magical quality of making you feel like his best friend whenever you were around. I was very lucky.
I am very much a handshaker and a hugger. It’s not something I really think about, just something that happens. I have never shaken so many hands and hugged people like I have in the last couple of months. Lots of kisses too but I do wish some of these village footballers would shave sometimes!
I can now laugh at some of the Hiscox stories. I am hearing more and more of them and I am afraid some of them are more than slightly hysterical. I am aware that when we are preparing our book about Ben, his dad Clive and I will probably have to apply a taste test, but on the other hand, we are talking about someone who loved life and, in so many ways other than physically, was larger than life. When I saw that toothy grin and when I still see it on the photographs people put on Facebook I would be lying if I said I didn’t smile. But we are not at the stage when we can think of Ben and smile without also feeling sadness and pain. I am not sure we ever will, but I look forward to a time when we can truly celebrate the man himself.
Someone said to me the other day that although they had never met Ben, because of what they had read and heard, they could imagine that they really did know him. Isn’t that amazing? Well, not really. It is the story, Ben’s story, that counts. In a way, he was blessed with a little stardust that he spread, not just with those he knew and loved, but also with those who were unfortunate enough to never meet him.
I am truly grateful for Ben’s legacy and, like everyone else he touched, I promise it will not be wasted.