The Great Benny Dog Search

Sometimes you just need a girls night out. And when you have a friend with a daughter that you and your daughter love equally, sometimes you need a girls overnight in Newport. At a fancy hotel. So you can relax and just decompress with your bestie and revel in some good old fashioned girl time!

This is exactly what we did last week. After the last year of remote learning and following all of the Covid guidelines, it felt good to celebrate our vaccinations with a trip! We had so much fun relaxing by the pool, riding bikes and eating out. My soul just needed the break.

Now that I felt recharged and zen, it was no surprise when Darcy came up to me at 10 PM the night we got home to tell me that her Benny Dog was missing. She couldn’t remember if she had packed him or accidentally left him in the room. She tore apart her bag and I looked through mine with no luck. At this point my husband and I started to panic.

You see Benny Dog isn’t just any old stuffed animal. When our Benny died people set up a memorial on the street and dropped off loads of flowers and stuffed animals. People who were complete strangers to us. The day before his services we decided that we’d have the kids each choose a stuffed animal or ‘Benny Bear’ to take home with them.

Darcy chose a chihuahua looking dog who became known as Benny Dog. There were stuffed bears there the size of her and surprisingly she chose this tiny, unassuming little dog. We have no idea where he came from or who gave him to our family, but Benny Dog became Darcy’s lovie. A complete stranger had given Darcy some comfort at the hardest moment in her life. Benny Dog has been to every sleep over, vacation and adventure we have had in the subsequent 7+ years.

I calmly called the hotel and was told to call back in the morning. So at 9 AM the next morning I called and was told to email housekeeping. I sent a pleading email, hoping someone would look for Benny Dog. I heard nothing. I really began to panic 48 hours after checkout. How could they not have found this little guy yet? My husband was ready to drive to the hotel and look. Darcy was eerily calm through all of this. I think because she knew I was not going to let this go until her Benny Dog was found.

I called and finally talked to housekeeping and was told they would call the linen company and check the room. They had nothing in lost and found. I just kept hoping that he would show up. Meanwhile, my bestie was chatting with a friend about our trip and let’s just say this lady has connections! All of a sudden the Great Benny Dog Search of 2021 commenced at said hotel! There were meetings with department heads and this little 8 inch pooch became a priority.

Within 3 hours I had a phonecall from housekeeping! A very thorough search of our room found him wedged/crammed between the nightstand and the wall. He probably would have lived the rest of his days there until they changed out the furniture had they not looked. I cried in relief that he was coming home via FedEx.

Once again, a complete stranger had saved us. I’ve never met the woman who put the Great Benny Dog Search into motion, but I am humbled by her understanding of our loss and her willingness to go right to the top to make sure that he was found. She saved my family from another huge loss and poor Benny Dog from years of being crammed between a wall and a nightstand. Thank you. ❤️

Signs, Signs, Everywhere are Signs…

I just the other day said to a friend that I was waiting for Benny to show up. I hadn’t really felt him since we moved. Over the past year it’s felt like it’s taken some time for the little guy to find us as we lived our gypsy lifestyle.

Well, after the day we had, I’m feeling like I was heard, in a BIG way! We had Darcy’s 10th birthday party at a local bakery/restaurant. She’s huge into baking this year and on a whim I booked a cupcake decorating party for her and her friends.

At one point in the party Darcy walked back from the bathroom with someone behind her. One of Darcy’s girlfriend’s had a sweatshirt with her school name on it and someone asked her if she knew Darcy Roaf. Darcy looked at her and said ‘that’s me.’ The woman asked Darcy for her parents and came over to us. It was Benny’s nurse. From the hospital. From the night he died. The first person to give us a glimpse of hope that losing a child is survivable.

We hadn’t seen her in years and caught up after the party with lots of hugs. It was totally random that she had stopped at the restaurant this afternoon. Totally random that we happened to be there having Darcy’s party. Even more random that today is 11/17. Benny’s half birthday. He would be 6.5 today.

We got home tonight and were trying to pick a movie to watch with Darcy and decided on the Sandlot. I haven’t watched this movie in years and I was shocked to discover that Parker had never EVER seen it! Five minutes in, we all look at each other when one of the main characters names is Benny. He’s the hero of the storyline. This characters initials happen to be the exact same as Benny’s, BFR.

Benny has a dream in which Babe Ruth (again initials BR) gives Benny a speech…’Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.’ In the next scene Benny puts on some PF Flyers (Perry, Fletcher?) to try to save the day.

Bah, maybe I’m reaching here. But I FEEL it!!  Today certainly feels a little like kismet. Thanks Buddy. I don’t know why I ever doubt you. XOXO


Sounds of Silence

It has been nearly 5 years since my son’s death. Five long years filled with a flurry of activity. Five years full of hope, sorrow and gratitude. We have been constantly in motion.

After Benny’s death we felt like we needed to live life to the fullest. Nothing makes you think long and hard about life than the death of someone young. I mean, my God, I’m going to die some day. It’s inevitable. And that day can be tomorrow or 50 years from tomorrow, but it’s going to happen.

We did a lot in that first year. We renovated our home, we traveled. We went to Disney World, we went cross country. It was important for us to be able to spend time with Darcy and try to figure out our family as just the three of us. As soon as we were close to even glimpsing what that was I was pregnant.

It was a boy. Another little blonde haired, blue eyed baby to remind us of what we lost. At the same time, he was a little reminder of hope that not all was lost. Besides sleep, we lost lots of sleep. And patience and probably a bit of sanity over this very demanding and loud little person.

And by the time he was old enough, there was the hint of another baby. And we decided to take over another business, oh and sell our home. My daughter’s birth was the quiet before the storm that brewed over the last year that turned our family’s life into complete chaos.

Four moves later, a year into a new business and the baby finally sleeps (a little anyway). We are finally home for good in the middle of the woods and the silence is deafening. Things seem slower, calmer for the first time in years.

We made the choices that guided us through our grief over the last 5 years. Some would say that we’re running from it. Possibly. Maybe it’s just our process. Maybe the keeping busy is our way of living life to it’s fullest.

Right now I’m going to enjoy the quiet. I’m going to savor every chance to sit on my deck and listen to peepers. I’m going to enjoy my opportunity to shower more than a few times a week because my kids are growing older. I’m going to spend some time looking at my grief from the lens of a now veteraned bereaved woman and try to figure out what it all means.

Things finally seem to be settling down. It might be time to take that for what it is and let it be.

Sounds of Silence



Sometimes you find yourself amongst friends where selfies don’t happen and phones are lost. Time ceases to exist. You are in the moment and you are happy.

Sometimes you laugh so hard your face hurts. You feel so connected your soul is at peace. You cry over shared pain.

Sometimes the stories are outrageous and the memories are even crazier. The ability to come together after so much time apart and just pick up where we left off is uncanny.

Sometimes doesn’t happen often for me, but it does with my ladies. Thirteen years ago we were all strangers. Now there’s nothing that we wouldn’t do for each other. We come from all walks of life and our age difference spans 30+ years.

I am a little happier and more at peace than I have been in so long. Just because I was able to spend some time with them tonight.

Love Is Bigger

I find so much therapy in music. I love when a song just speaks to me. I struggled after Benny died to listen to the radio, it just made it hurt more. Now some 4+ years later I find it soothes me. There’s just something so poetic about putting emotion into music.

I love me a good U2 song to jam out to in the car with the windows down. There’s something so soothing about Bono’s voice, it’s like a balm for what ails you.

Their new song is just amazing. It reminds me how we got through our grief. It reminds me how we are able to get out of bed every morning. It reminds me that love can light the way. It certainly did for us. Grief is hard. Love was bigger.

Love Is Bigger

The Bears from my Childhood

All of this ‘Berenstein’ vs. ‘Berenstain’ Bears nonesense has me thinking.  I distinctly remember ‘stein,’ but have talked to other folks that remember ‘stain.’  I don’t get it, I really don’t and I’ve been reading articles most of the evening trying to wrap my head around it all.

I was reading one article aloud to Parker that talked about a parallel universe existing or several, where there were other ‘me’s’ that make different decisions.  I looked at Parker and said maybe Benny’s alive in another universe.  Maybe I brought him into the house like I was going to and then tried to take the key out of the car.  Maybe we never went out that day.  Maybe we never bought our house, but one with a flat driveway.  Maybe, maybe, maybe.

It really got me thinking though, maybe there was no Benny in another universe because I never went to Wentworth and I never met Parker.  Maybe my mom didn’t die of breast cancer and I ended up going to school in Virginia as planned.  It’s amazing how much one little decision can affect the course of your life.  I have no answers for the Berenstein debate.  I do not understand how something that I swear to be true isn’t.  There’s so many things about this life that I simply do not understand.  Maybe there isn’t an answer, it’s not black and white.

Back in May, right before Mother’s Day, I went on my second grieving mother’s retreat.  It was much easier the second time around because I knew so many of the mom’s from last year and my support group in Worcester.  I wasn’t as anxious going into it.  It was an amazing day of relaxation, yoga and being amongst friends.  At the close of the day, we sat down with Peggy Huddleston, who authored the book ‘Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster’ where she talks about the mind/body connection and illness/injury.  She also lost her son and was working with us to get into a relaxed state so that we could communicate with our loved ones.

I was a little dubious.  I still couldn’t explain my experience with Maureen Hancock and I certainly wasn’t a medium.  I had a hard time relaxing the first time that we did it.  It was almost like being hypnotized, it’s hard to explain.  I’ve always been a mind over matter type of person, especially when it comes to pain, but I was distracted by the person sitting next to me shifting around in their seat.  I was seeing flashes, Benny’s face, but I wasn’t sure if I was seeing them because I wanted to or because something else was going on.  We went around the room and shared what we saw and Peggy led us through the relaxation again and told us to ask our loved ones a question.

I panicked, I had no question for Bennett.  I didn’t want to ask him if he blamed me, I wasn’t ready for that.  I thought about it and figured I would just ask if he was with my mom.  I’ve received so many signs from Bennett and so few from my mom over the years.  I wanted to know where she was.

As Peggy put us under the second time I was really able to relax.  At first I saw Benny’s face in my memory, but not Benny at 18 months, but an older Benny, a 3 year old Benny (which he would have been at the time).  I’d never really imagined him as older, I wouldn’t let myself, it hurt too much.  For whatever reason, this is what I saw.  It was like looking at a movie with no sound.  I asked him if he was with my mom and the picture changed to when he used to play her organ and shake his curls like Jerry Lee Lewis.  I wasn’t sure if he was telling me no, or what.  The picture shifted again and all of a sudden I was watching him walking.  Then the picture zoomed out and he was holding a yellow balloon in one hand and my moms hand in the other.  Clear as day, they were walking away from me.

I wasn’t sure if I saw what I wanted to or I was actually able to communicate.  Peggy said not to question it, but logical me figured it was too good to be true.

A week later, my friend/neighbor Angela was chasing down WXLO to try to get tickets for their Mother’s Day brunch.  At the last minute she was able to win some tickets for myself and another mother who had lost her teenage son exactly a year ago on that day.  The brunch was at Uno’s in Millbury and the morning show was broadcasting live.  They had a medium there and a nice little spread of food.  I had no idea what to expect, as Angela had just messaged us the night before to let us know that she got tickets.

I’ve been warned by friends to be suspicious of mediums.  My experience with Maureen Hancock was amazing, but I had taken every precaution so that she wouldn’t know my name.  This time, we got the tickets the night before and they were in Angela’s name.  There was no way that they had my information.

The medium started with a family behind us and honestly, I felt that I had my closure.  I had what I wanted from Maureen and I was silently hoping that Angela’s friend Heather’s son would come through for her.

As the medium was walking around she said that she was getting a Margaret name.  When no one spoke up I said that Margaret was my mom’s middle name.  She asked me if her name began with a J, guessing Jane and I corrected her with Joan.  She said that the she was sitting in the empty seat next to me.  She asked me if there were 3 kids in my family growing up to which I said yes.  Then she asked about the baby.  I asked her which one, and she said that my mom welcomed the baby and was with him.  She said he was in very good hands.  She asked me if my grandmothers name was Anna, to which I said yes.  My mom said she is with my kids and that my daughter has family blood (she’s a spitting image of me and my mom).  She said that I’m very close with my mom’s sister (Aunt Dorothy) but that she’s very different from my mom.  She asked me if my mom was sick to which I said yes.  She said that my mom was the center person in our family and after she died that I took on that role.  She said that my dad never recovered and deserves a ‘swift kick’ for falling apart on us.

I’m sure there was more, but my mind was blown.  Even if the medium had my name prior to the event, there’s no way that she could have come up with that information.  My mom died in 1996, none of this showed up on a google search with my name.  She knew my grandmother’s name.  I have no explanation.  A week prior I was asking her and Benny if they were together and why I never get signs from her and instantly I have answers.  I got validation.

After the readings were all over, they pulled a name from a hat for someone else in the room.  I was hoping that they would pick my name so that I could give a reading to Heather.  I was sitting there in my head saying please Benny and mom over and over.  So they picked my name.  And Heather got her reading.

I can’t make this stuff up.  I can’t even begin to understand most of it.  I don’t have an answer.  Maybe it’s ‘stain’ maybe it’s ‘stein.’  I don’t know.  I’m thankful that those damn bears got me to finally write this post that I’ve been holding on to since May.  Believe it, or not, it happened.  I can’t explain it, it just is.  It just keeps happening, he keeps sending me signs and giving me exactly what I need.  God I miss him.

A Little bit of Sunshine

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Of course sunflowers showed up in the garden.  Darcy told me today thar Benny must have planted the sunflowers when we weren’t looking.  The second picture is onw of our pumpkins.  It attached itself to a tree and is growing dangling over our fence.  It’s bigger than a softball.  When I found it today I was chatting with my neighbor Fran and her daughter Tara.  Tara reminded me about the pumpkin at the cemetery.  It was put there in October and we found it in the Spring, still intact.  Funny thing is, we haven’t found a good place to go pumpkin picking since Benny passed.  He knows best I suppose.

Nurse Appreciation Week

I can say with complete certainty that there are things that I blocked out from ‘that day’.  I don’t like to talk about it and a lot of the details have become fuzzy at this point.  It’s like watching a movie, like it happened to someone else, because how could that have ever happened to Benny and me?

What I do remember about the hospital is pretty awful, painful and graphic.  I don’t want to talk about that.  I want to talk about what I remember that was good.  It’s weird to say the word good in the same sentence where I talk about my son dying, but bear with me please.

There was this moment, when I felt that I would shatter, when I was starting to feel something and completely freaked out.  Until then I was numb, I went someplace, I was shaking and not making much sense.  I didn’t even cry at first because it was all still unbelievable to me.  But then I fell apart.  I asked Parker how we were supposed to go on, breathe, live.

‘I lost my son too.  You will get through this’.  Through my hysterics I looked across the room to the nurse that was stroking Benny’s hair who had spoken.  It was such a simple statement, but the life raft I needed in that moment.  Here was my proof that this was survivable.  These words meant everything to me.  There were probably 20+ people around us, doctors and nurses.  She was the first one to talk to us and she was the one that made the difference.  Thank you Donna, 18 months later, YOU are what stands out in my mind from that day and for that I’m forever thankful.

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