Requiem - In loving memory of Ben McKinnon

This is my letter to Ben. We spent 4.5 years together, from the age of 17 to 21. We were so young. So innocent in love. Going on adventures across the world together. Building up a business together. Working on your projects and films together. Going through hardship together. Crying and laughing together. Even though 2 years passed after we were no longer in relationship, your death affected me like none other. My heart shattered. I hold your memory close to my heart, and cherish all the moments we spent with each other. We grew up together. And nothing and nobody can take those memories away.  They are real and true, and I'm glad we were a part of each others' lives albeit for a short while. Be free and wild. May Creator carry you back to the stars. 


Dear Ben, 

You have gone back home, to the place of the stars and light you have always dreamed of. You are free to be all that you are. 

You are laughing; I can hear you in the wind.

You are smiling that child-like smile with your eyes that sparkle like nebulas and the way that the sun reflects at high-noon on a lake.

I can see you in the portals of light that trickle in pools through these Oregon evergreens. 

It's somewhere I know you are.

I can feel your dulcet heart looking out towards the sea, in the way that the birds fly, the heron soaring above my head, with the wind, wings outstretched, letting it lift them.

We are all exactly where we need to be, and despite the waves of grief that have flowed through me, I realize that you are, too. You are safe. You are in a place of expansive comfort and I can feel that same expansiveness in my own heart. You are free.

There were 2 things you said that will always stick with me : 

"The core of man's spirit comes from new experiences", and "aspire to inspire before you expire". 

You are defining those very words, dear Ben, as you venture and adventure into your next life, as you fill our world with your light. You have inspired and will continue to through your art. You are fulfilling your wishes, Ben, of inspiring others to create, to live passionately, to love fully, to make the most out of life.

We have been through a lot, you and I. You brought magic into my life for the time we were in love. Those 4.5 years together shaped me in ways I will cherish forever, both in challenging and triggering ways, and in the most incredible ways imaginable. And like the natural cycles of life, our time together came to an end. And despite the normal pains that come from heartbreak, we both knew it was best because through it, we were blessed with new love. I always kept you close to my heart, even when my boundaries needed to go up to protect it.

Throughout these past 2 years of us being apart, it's been through the pink and tender filaments that connected our hearts that I could feel your deep pain, your sorrow, but also your profound caring for everyone and all things around you. You were selfless in that way. Your heart too big for your chest to carry.

We met up once, on a warm day last spring/summer just as you were about to travel across the US, to see your new love. It was the last time I saw you, and a beautiful afternoon I will cherish forever, alongside the other amazing experiences we shared. We sipped coffee and updated one another on our life's happenings. We relinquished some of the hurt surrounding our relationship, but I could still see your tormented soul. We kissed lovingly goodbye and that would be the very last time I saw you.

Since then, we have exchanged messages every now and then, until finally, some weeks ago you wrote me in one long email that you couldn't bare having me in your life anymore, and that it would be our last farewell.

I guess you were right, because here we are; you, in the spirit realm and I, on this earthy plain.

Working with you as part of the Five Knights Team taught me the value of a tight-knit crew of loving people. It allowed me to express myself creatively as a photographer, and I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for those times.

We travelled whenever we could and photographed our way around; from Tadoussac to exploring cool places around Montreal café hopping (because your dream was to open up one of your own someday), to Budapest, Prague and Peru. We could travel and spend time endlessly together.

We would speak for hours and hours on end about life, about spirituality, about death and about purpose.

You held space for me to express myself through singing. We would sing City and Colour songs together as you strummed the guitar. You always wanted the best for me, for me to express myself to my fullest capabilities and to achieve my greatest potential.

You felt and experienced everything with so much depth, a depth little people could ever come to understand because it sank so deep within your soul, and I feel so grateful to have been one of those people who saw your wholeness, all parts of you, for what it is, for what they were, beyond the shell of a body we are born in. I feel truly blessed to have been someone you could confide in, someone you could trust with your deepest fears and greatest aspirations, no matter how crazy they seemed.

You introduced me to the wonderful, intricate world of cinematic exploration and expression (and Adventure Time!). You amazed me with every project you took on with such fullness and unwavering presence. Your transparency of emotion with this art form took my breath away.

Above all, but certainly not all, you taught me that love transcends all. Love changes. Love shifts and transforms and dies and renews itself in endless forms.

Your passion for creation and art inspires me, Ben. And it's with your soft and fiery essence that I can move on from grief to inspiration. You are inspiring everyone you crossed paths with, Ben.

You've finally reached the point of happiness you've been striving for. You've made it. You've created. You've loved. You've shed your final skin. You're finally exactly where you need to be.

I'm relieved and overjoyed and at peace knowing that you've found what you've been searching for, and that this world could not give you. Have you quenched your thirsty curiosity of the afterlife, like you used to always talk to me about? I have no doubt in my heart of all hearts that you have.

I feel you here with me, Ben. I can see you all around me. I've kept all of your gifts and songs and drawings. 

And the greatest gift of all was to have loved you. To have had such a talented, passionate, open, vulnerable, sensitive, shining being in my life.

I will dance this life-dance with you in my heart.

Cheers to you, Ben McKinnon of the Golden Heart, my first love. 

Your light shines on. 

May you rest in peace, Ben. 
November 10, 1991 - August 12, 2016