Ken Bovey: Final thoughts

June 13th, 2011 was the 20th anniversary of the death of a friend of mine, Ken Bovey.   Ken died at the age of 32 from scleroderma, a rare auto-immune disease.  This is the story of the last 10 months of Ken’s life.  It is a story of how one man prepared for his own death.

I didn’t see Ken’s body after he died.   Though I asked to view him, I was warned by Nancy and Geoff that it would be very upsetting to see him without life.   Ken died weighing little less than 60lbs.  He was so emaciated, the funeral home had trouble embalming his body.   I share this with you, because it underlines the physical suffering that Ken endured throughout the last months of his life.

Of course, Ken endured great emotional pain.   For a vibrant 32 year-old man, coming to terms with the reality that his life was ending was the greatest cross he carried.  No more hope of marriage.  No more hope of children.  No more hope of a meaningful career.  Yet, Ken was not without hope – it was hope that sustained him!

…knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Rom 5: 3-5)

It was the love of God that poured into Ken the night he died.

Although Ken and I rarely spoke of religion, or even of spiritual matters, Ken had faith.  He had within him a deep passion for life and an underlying faith in the fundamental goodness of it that saw him through his ordeal to the very end.

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1-2)

What was “realized” – what was made real and what we had been praying for all along - was Ken’s peace in the last days of his life.   Not only was peace realized, the peace Ken came to was in fact love.   He was so full of love that he had to ask his mother to step away from the bed so that he could leave with it.

I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention the beautiful strength of Ken’s mother, Nancy.  Despite the heartbreaking circumstances of losing her son, she carried within herself such grace, hope, and love, that we were all continuously consoled by her spirit.  In as much as God showed up for Ken, Nancy too was filled with grace.

I am deeply indebted to Ken Bovey.  I am humbled to have experienced such miraculous things with him.  I look forward to seeing him on the other side of the Dharma River.   There on the river bank, I’ll have lots of questions for him about what was hidden from our eyes.  In the meantime, I am grateful for his courage, his strength, and his gift of asking me to experience with him the profound truth that life has conquered death.

We look to what is not seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.  (Cor 4:18)

From left to right:  Nancy, Ken, and Diana (Ken’s Aunt).

Categories Blog Post, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on September 8, 2011

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  1. by Robin Scobie

    On September 8, 2011

    Lovely words Pat, I remember you telling me about your friend Ken, and I also remember one time we went cycling in London you stopping by Ken’s tree and showing it to me…thanks for sharing this story.

    Robin :)

  2. by Craig

    On September 8, 2011

    Pat, you told this story with a true gift that I’m sure would have made Ken proud.

  3. by Patrick O'Connor

    On September 8, 2011

    That’s right, Robin. I saw the tree last month and it is strong and much bigger now. The plaque reads:

    Ken Bovey
    Friend, Environmentalist
    “But when you do the things that you can do, you will find the way and the way will follow you.”
    The Tao of Pooh

  4. by Dennis & Marg

    On September 10, 2011

    A very touching story beautifully told. You have a great journalistic talent. We look forward to reading more of your stuff.

  5. by TAMMY

    On September 10, 2011

    The tree planted in Ken’s memory grows in the perfect spot. It is peaceful, surrounded by a natural habitat, overlooking the river. I’m sure that his environmental spirit is smiling down on any friends or strangers who stop to rest there.

    In those last 10 months, Ken’s physical body went through such suffering and yet, you have written that hope sustained him. That’s such a beautiful example of having faith in God’s love and in His promise to clothe our spirit in a new heavenly body when we die. “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down, we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

    There is no doubt that you miss Ken dearly. But, it must be comforting for you to know that he will greet you in his new heavenly body when your time comes to enter eternal life “on the other side of the Dharma River”.

    Your reflections are pure and heartfelt, Pat. I look forward to reading Part 2.

  6. by Patrick O'Connor

    On September 11, 2011

    Thank you for your comment, Tammy. Your quote from Corinthians is the promise that we can all look forward to.

  7. by Vickie

    On October 9, 2011

    Thankyou Pat for sharing this story. I have a sense that your story, and others I have read lately are put before me to help me prepare and not be afraid. With Love and Faith we can pass through anything.

  8. by Silvana

    On November 25, 2011

    Thank you for sharing Ken’s story Pat. It is a beautiful way to share your faith and to give people hope. As I said before you and Ken are Brothers in Christ and with I my heart I know that you will see each other again one day and until that day Ken will be praying for you just as you prayed with him.

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