Something happened to me today that I didn’t expect. Ben Pauls, a good friend of mine from back in my high school days, passed away. He was just a few years older than me, but I still remember the good times we had together when I was just a kid. I also have a feeling of regret that I could never track him down to tell him just how much I appreciated what he did for me back in the day.
I was a scrawny skinny kid back in high school. I wasn’t really popular, but neither was Ben. Ben looked out for me through high school. Got me started in sports like Cross Country and Wrestling. I learned to belong to a team and what it meant to be a team player. Ben wasn’t the best most athletic person either and I think that is why we got along so well.
In Cross Country, he really worked with me to get me to be a better runner. In Wrestling, he worked with me to get better. The wrestling team as a whole were supportive of me because Ben was.
After he graduated, he was still there for me. We spent time outside school and through the summer playing role playing games with some of his other friends like Chris Eddy and Shawn O’Neil. We went to Cedar Point together, went out on weekends, and otherwise just hung out.
I went to college and came back to see him every now and then. He had married and his wife was pregnant with their first kid. He went through EMT school and was riding in an ambulance for a living. I still remember leaving the house he rented back in 1994 and how sad I was to be leaving for Big Rapids.
My brother ran into him back about 8 years ago at a Warhammer tournament and I got his email address. Try as I might to email him, he never responded. I tried to find him and couldn’t get a phone number.
Today, when I found out he passed away, I was hit with a sad feeling. Just remembering the person he was and all the fun we had together. It really puts life in perspective.
Ben, I will not forget you.