How losing a brother to cancer inspired an album: My Story. Pt 3 ~ November.

Ben Lawrence
4 min readNov 4, 2021

I don’t think I really appreciated the seasons when I was younger, they just happened to me. Autumn is my favourite season, but it’s soft beauty now has this overhanging sense of hollowness to it.

Do you ever get to this time of year and you’re sort of surprised about the change in the weather? It doesn’t matter how old I get or how much I anticipate it, the change is always a bit of a shock. Change can be like that, for some they embrace it and for others it’s difficult to deal with.

I’m a bit of a ‘grass is greener’ type guy. Not, I would say, in a necessarily negative way, but in a ‘could be better’ or a ‘now, here’s an idea!’ kind of way. I think it’s quite easy to be a dreamer when you’re a twin. Dan and I had a ‘one up’ mentality of pushing each other to conjure up the next best creative idea. It was actually quite hard to put all of those ideas off (especially when you don’t have the resources to make a full feature length film about driving cars, aged 14.) But the thing is, none of that really mattered back then. Just knowing we could dream big dreams and even try to make them happen is what adventure is all about. Having a running mate who keeps pushing you further and further means the adventure never ends.

That is, until you don’t.

Let’s talk about essence. What makes a human uniquely who they are? Is it genetics or environment or experiences? Probably a bit of each of those things, but for me there’s something more, the thing that separates us from bees and bears and buzzards. It’s our essence, this part inside of all of us that screams to be alive, to have an original voice, to have a reason to exist. To be loved, to be heard, to be known.

I think it’s his essence that I miss the most. If I’m being honest, spending that much time with someone, you get so used to their mannerisms and facial expressions, that when they’re gone it’s quite hard to specifically define that part of them. It all blurs into a singular memory. Their essence though, is what you feel, what remains a part of you. It’s a bit like when you go to someone’s house for tea and they cook pancakes and you wake up the next morning and your clothes still smell of them. Their essence makes a mark on your essence.

So, November. November hurts. November pulls no punches. November has this lingering darkness to it, one that I have had to become accustomed to. November is a manifesto of heartbreak and hope, the kind that forces you to reconsider everything.

After a two year battle with cancer, Dan passed away in late November 2016. I remember what those hours spent next to his bed felt like. I remember the tension of loving someone so much that you want them to stay, but knowing that they want to go. I remember holding his hand in mine and thinking how this moment was never meant to happen.

I remember the day after, we all went to the local park and laughed about whatever we could. I remember the feeling of relief we had, knowing that his pain was over. I remember the countless messages of support and condolence from people I hadn’t seen in a long time. I remember his essence, and the lack of it.

Every year on that date and at the time he passed away, I try to mark it with something. Nothing spectacular or dramatic. Just something. Sometimes I just sit in my car and hold my breath for a few seconds and then let it all out again.

I used to struggle with change, and in some ways I still do. But now I see the value in change that forces us to grow, to develop, to see life for it’s true beauty. A beauty heaped in hurt and disappointment. Can you have good without bad? Can the mountain of joy even be considered without comparing it to the valley of despair?

November reminds me that life is worth the journey. It’s worth the moments of elation and the moments of deep sadness. Every season has a purpose and every experience is valuable, however hard it might be. Life itself is enough of a reason to keep on moving.

Pt. 4 ~ Coming on November 11th 2021.

I’m currently crowdfunding to make my debut album ‘O Wide World’ ~ my story of finding hope after losing my brother to cancer. This album is full of big indie folk rock songs that will speak to your soul.

Follow this link to help make it happen!

Keep on moving.
~ Ben



Ben Lawrence

I’m Ben, a songwriter and filmmaker from Norwich, UK. I’m currently on a journey to record an album of songs written after losing my brother to cancer.