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This time, last year.

For Bens 21st birthday he received a $500 flight centre voucher from his friends.
Most normal 21 year olds would want to either go crazy on a boy’s trip away or venture off on an immediate family getaway with their baby mumma and daughter Annabella.
But not our Benny boy he rallied us all together. He was determined to plan a large and very rare family holiday. If you’ve ever come across a Hocking determined to get something done, my best suggestion is to get on board or step to the side because when we have our minds set on something come hell or high water we will get the job done.
Over several family meetings, throughout many family dinners, small decisions were made in between loud family domestics (nothing serious of course, mainly us just telling Dad his ideas were shit). We finally locked in a destination and travel dates. 7 adults and 2 children were set to take on the Gold Coast in February 2016. Ben paid for flights and accommodation and then allowed us girls to pay him back on a weekly payment plan that he recorded in his much loved exercise book.
Ben had this absolute gift where people who met him instantly felt his warmth, were draw to him and I’m probably being biased here but fell in love with him.
It’s true though, Ben did a cash job once and the elderly couple he did the job for gave him some extra cash on top of paying him for his work. But they made him promise he would take it and they would be offended if he didn’t take it. Benny was loveable from the second you met him, there was no denying that.
Ben took charge pre holiday in organizing the rental cars. One Sunday afternoon I sat on the couch (there was some light note taking happening as well) while Ben sat at the kitchen table ringing various different car rental places in the Gold Coast. His beloved exercise book in front of him, frantically writing down notes on details such as car seats, insurance costs, rental costs, transfers and whatever else comes with that kind of business. (Obviously that’s why I wasn’t put on that job.)
After several calls, I can hear Ben chatting away to a guy named Luke. I continue listening and Ben seems happy with everything that Luke’s company can provide and the price that he is offering us.

I am actually bursting with pride as I listen to Ben on the phone as he is chatting to Luke like he’s a long term mate of his. I hear Ben tell Luke he wants to help him because they are a family business and Ben wants his business to do well. I hear Ben tell Luke the quotes that he’s received from other companies and where they are located. Ben hangs up the phone from Luke and I am still so, so proud of is manner and beautiful, caring personality. But in true sister fashion it would be wrong of me not to give him shit. “Hey Ben, what star sign was he?” giving him a ribbing at the depth of conversation he had managed to get into with the car rental guy.

Months pass and Luke picks us all up from the airport when we arrive in Queensland to take us back to his car rental place. Ben goes up to greet him and shake his hand. Annabella on his hip, and her pink backpack on his back.
From the get go our whole family got along with Luke; we laughed the whole car trip. We all just clicked. From the car trip to signing the papers in the yard, it was just quality laughs with Luke and our whole family. He even gave us some beers to enjoy. We set off on our holiday and when we met Luke again at the end of it we were stoked to see him and fill him in on the details of our trip.
We all made a Google account in the car and gave his business raving reviews. We told him when he comes to Melbourne to give us a call and we promised when we come to Queensland again we would be sure to give him a call.
The holiday that Ben planned for us was nothing short of amazing. Beautiful times in lovely weather that have now become precious, treasured memories that none of us will ever forget. It’s very hard to think that this was just a year ago. When Ben was here, laughing and enjoying life with us.
This whole time since Ben as passed I’ve felt that I needed to tell Luke. Last week I finally emailed Luke about our horrific news.

Here is the reply I got back;
Hi Hayleigh,

Well I wasn’t expecting that when i opened the link :(.

I am gutted and so so sorry for your family’s loss.

I only spent about an hour in total with Ben and you guys and I feel like I have lost a family member myself.

You guys were so tight and full of laughter it really reminded me of myself and my family.

That’s most likely why myself and your family clicked instantly. I can still remember when Ben first rang me to suss out car hire for your

family’s trip up here. I was in Woolworths food shopping with my partner and i remember thinking this guy is roughly mid 30s. The manner

in which he spoke and asked questions i defiantly thought he was much older then what he was.

I picked you guys up from the airport and Ben came straight up to me and shook my hand and he had his daughter Annabella in his arms.

(I though wow he is young but he has got it together).

Your email has prompted me to ring me whole family today and ask them all if everything is ok and if they need anything at all I’m always here.

Ben and you guys really left a mark on myself and i often wonder how you are going.

Its inspiring that you have taken this fucked up situation and turned it around to make some good out of it by helping other people talk about there ups and downs in life.

I really just want to let you now how sorry i am that this has happened to you and your family, you defiantly didn’t deserve these cards and i send all my well wishes.

Thanks again for emailing me i really appreciate it.

Kind regards,

Luke Lewis

P.S Could you please do me a favor, next time you go to visit Ben, could you take him a beer and tell him it’s from me and also tell him i said hi.

This is why my family and I do what we do.

Ben was far too special to be forgotten.