Everyday is Love Day


Michel Ruiz Fuentes, Literary Magazine Coordinator

Everyday is Love Day is my thank you tribute to Ben. Ben typically always took a picture of himself at the basketball court. The next day I would always praise his dedication or bother him and tell him that I would challenge him 1v1. He used to caption the images: Love Day, but I never understood what that meant.

Love Day. I never asked him what it meant but I assumed that, “Love Day” must be how he expressed his excitement for basketball that day. “Love Day. Love the day. Love what you’re doing.” A phrase coined by the University of Maryland Basketball Terrapins former player, Jacob Susskind. “You wanna see some love? It’s Love Day. I’m showing love here on the court.” Ben adopted this term and flaunted this phrase during his late night practices, his weekend tournaments, and before SSFS games.

The “Love Day” Terrapins facebook states, “Love Day equals game day. When you wake up and you love what you’re doing that day, your head is clear and poised to deliver greatness.”

Love Day is a phrase specific to basketball, performance and training yet the motto is not restricted to that. Love Day is about living life to the fullest, making the best of it, being appreciative, being driven, and delivering your greatness. Love Day was not limited to Ben on the court. Everyday I spent with Ben was Love Day. Ben spread his humor, positivity and love twenty four-seven. His humor and dance moves brought smiles to everyone around him. C block Anatomy and B Block Spanish felt alive because Ben added his touch of humor to it all.

On Monday May 6th, I was at my home in D.C. I woke up with an unbearable migraine and told my mother to please give me medicine, let me rest and take me to school if I was feeling better. The first period this day was C Block, my Anatomy class. I took my medicine and told my mother to contact my advisor about my tardiness.

9:18am: I got an alert from our Torch (our student government) group chat, “Does anyone know what’s going on today?”

10am: “Sending love to everyone right now <3 text if you need anything.”

Not being on campus made these texts even more confusing to read. I knew something was wrong but I could not put my finger on it. My mind went to the worst possible scenario, loss and death, but I had no idea who, what or how it must have happened. Finally, one friend replied, “Ben.” No last name. I broke down. Whichever Ben it was, I knew it stabbed our community and brought immense turmoil and grief.

The following days were full of tremendous disbelief, sadness, anger, and fear. The Candle Lit Ceremony, support groups, talking to his family, and his church celebration have all helped me accept his passing and learn how to express my feelings in a tangible and creative way.

UMD former player, Jacob Susskind, talked about the difficulty of loving the day because there are plentiful hardships. “You kind of want to make sure you’re enjoying the day and that you love life. I want people to understand that you should live everyday like it could be your last and enjoy it and not necessarily hold grudges or be upset about anything, because we’re all here and we’re all alive and we’re all relatively healthy. Everyone does have their own things going on, but just remember the good things that are happening around you.”

There are a couple of significant features to Every is Love Day that reflect some way I have grown and learned about Ben and myself:

The basketball net has been sculpted to form a heart at the bottom because I want to emphasize the inseparable truth that Ben meant love.

The angel wings on his backboard represents care, protection, love, and comfort. I believe that our loved ones who have entered a new world of eternal peace are always with us. Angels watch over, guard, and guide. One can think of curling themselves in the protection in the large wings of their angel. With wings they can fly to heaven and be free to come down to Earth and humble us with their presence.

I have added a couple of words and images that depict some memories I have of Ben:

The hot glue print of the word “GADQEV” refers to Fridays in Spanish. In English, we say “TGIF” which translates to “Thank God it’s Friday.” Spanish does not have the equivalence but on campus almost any Spanish student will use the phrase “GADQEV” which translates to “Gracias a Dios que es viernes” Every Friday Spanish class, after the attendance roll, this phrase would be saved for Ben to say. Although “GADQEV” is not specific and was not coined by Ben, when I hear the phrase now, he comes to mind immediately.

My second hot glue piece is a reflex hammer. In Anatomy, Ben and I did a lab together where we hit the inner part of our elbow, the bottom of our foot and knee to get a reflex. Ben and I went to Angela Colegrove, our Anatomy teacher, like thirty times because I was often hitting the wrong spot. I remember always being the one to hit and show the reflex for our lab because 1) I didn’t want to “flex” because my muscle did not compare to Ben’s and I was embarrassed and 2) I wanted an excuse to use the reflex hammer.

The third hot glue piece is somewhat like a spider web. The circular design has a center, rings and arrows around it. The circle at the center represents the drive and how focused Ben was. I layed this piece over the top of the hoop’s rim because this center is directly facing the heart figure at the bottom of the net. Ben was focused and wanted to follow his passion. I asked him what he envisioned himself doing when he got older and he said, “Play in the NBA or be a coach or sports medicine doctor.” Ben was a coach, mentor and brother. He was incredibly successful at basketball and worked hard to improve. Ben was focused and resilient. He has left a positive impact on me and has inspired me to make the most of all my experiences.

Love Day equals game or performance day, but also, to wake up and love what you’re doing that day. To keep your head clear and poised to deliver greatness. Around Ben, Everyday was Love Day.

Thank you Ben, for honoring me with the blessing to have spent my high school career with you. I love you, may your poise, humor and memories live on. Death is a difficult subject, but what has helped me is my community, love, and faith.  I truly believe that what is lovely never dies and instead passes into another form of loveliness. God gained an Angel

Thank you Ben <3