Saying goodbye to someone who has passed away is never easy, no matter how old they are or what the cause of them passing was. Sometimes, I don’t understand why things happen the way they do, or why people die so young. But I don’t think it’s really for us to understand. I know none of us will live forever, but it’s unfair that some of us don’t get a chance to really live their lives before they are taken from away from us.
This weekend, I had to bid farewell to another special person in my life. He had a beautiful soul, he was an amazing husband and father, a loving son, a wonderful cousin, a caring friend, a heartfelt singer – Vincenzo Benenati. Vince was 36-years-old, and should have had his entire life ahead of him. Instead, he spent the last six years of his life fighting to stay alive – battling lymphatic cancer. And this weekend, his family and friends all joined together to lay him to rest and say goodbye to this incredible human being.
Everyone who knew Vince, knew that even though he had been dealt a pretty horrible hand when it came to his health the past six years, he fought to the very end and enjoyed every single moment he could with his loved ones. He always looked on the brighter side of things, was always optimistic, always positive no matter how bad things seemed to be. Before he died, he told his eldest cousin, Josie Gisonni, who read his eulogy at his funeral this past weekend, that the past seven years were the best years of his life thanks to his beautiful wife, Zanet Lovric, and his two gorgeous children, Nya and Nico.
Like many of us at one time or another, Vince struggled to find his way in life, but with the love and support of his family and friends he became the kind, loving, smart, funny, gentle and wonderful human being everyone knew him to be today. Besides his love for family, he had an undeniable passion for music and singing, and a voice that touched the hearts of everyone he met.
I the honour and pleasure of meeting Vince 10 years ago while I was working for Metro News covering Canadian Idol. As soon as I watched his audition tape and heard him sing, I fell in love with his voice, with his personality, with his beautiful soul. Out of all the competitors that season, there was something about him that I couldn’t explain, so I wrote about him and promoted him when I could, and from there we met, we talked, we became friends.
When Vince learned I was getting married later that year, he offered to sing at my wedding as a thank you for all of my support during his time in the singing competition. Even though I offered to pay for his singing at my wedding, he wouldn’t have it and turned me down, saying it was the least he could do for my having helped make his Canadian Idol experience one he would surely never forget. And so he sang at my wedding, and helped make what was already a very special moment in mine and my husband’s lives, a memory we will cherish and remember for always.
That’s the kind of man Vince was – selfless, generous, devoted and loving. Everyone who knew him has said the same words about him. He loved with his whole heart, he lived with no regrets, he relished in all the good times with his family and friends. And most of all, he was very thankful for everything and everyone he had in his life.
No one should ever have to endure such a horrible illness, especially at 30-years-old. But he did, and he did it with grace, with persistence, without ever giving up or throwing in the towel. He went through two different types of chemo-therapy, radiation treatment and a stem cell transplant that were all unsuccessful in keeping the cancer from coming back. And when that didn’t work he reached out to everyone he knew to help him raise funds for a clinical treatment that everyone hoped and prayed would be his chance at living a cancer-free life.
Unfortunately, the treatments didn’t work, but it did give him time with his family and friends, time with his wife and his children, time he probably would not have gotten had he not fought so hard and had not received the treatments he did.
I remember Vince singing Edwin Mccain’s I Could Not Ask For More during his time on Canadian Idol, and as I sat at his funeral service listening to the words of Father Gianni who knew and loved Vince like a son, and the eulogy given by his cousin Josie, all I could picture was Vince singing the words to that song. I know if he was there at that moment, these are words he would use to explain how grateful and thankful he was for all the blessings in his life.
“These are the moments I thank God that I’m alive
These are the moments I’ll remember all my life
I found all I’ve waited for
And I could not ask for more
Looking in your eyes
Seeing all I need
Everything you are is everything to me
These are the moments
I know heaven must exist
These are the moments I know all I need is this
I have all I’ve waited for
And I could not ask for more.”
Rest in peace my dear friend. I thank God that I had the chance to meet you, the time to know you, the opportunity to meet your wonderful family and the honour to have been a part of your life. You will truly be missed and you will live on in the hearts of your family and friends forever.