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Tribute for Richard: June 1977 - April 2011

Richard - 19 years old - Senior picture he sent me in a letter, while he lived in Australia

I lost a friend.

His name was Richard M. and most of the people that read this already know who I'm talking about. I am heartbroken and ever since I knew he was gone eleven days ago, I feel like I have been walking around in a strange dreamland in the past.

Taking care of my children, driving here and there, laughing with friends...I've been doing it all...but all those things have been in the back of my mind and his face has been right there in the front, right behind my eyes. I feel like I can see him so clearly. I don't hear what people are saying to me because I'm replaying conversation after conversation with him over and over in my mind.

What's interesting to me is that I don't picture him in my mind at his age recently...just a year older than myself. I picture him at about 16 years old, right in the middle of the time that he was one of the closest friends in the world to me.

For more than a week, my mind was exploding with so many memories of him. So many really, that I couldn't keep track and I couldn't sleep. They just kept rolling on in to my head. So when his father asked me if I could stand up and share something about Richard at the service, I knew had so much to share that it might take hours.

The only problem was that I couldn't do it.

I could barely get to the service because I was so sick to my stomach with grief. I hadn't stopped crying for almost 10 days before the service. When I walked to his old house (where his family was) from my old house (where my mom still lives) I cried the whole way. I composed myself before I knocked on the door and then when I saw his mother's face, I crumbled as she hugged me.

I knew I couldn't stand up and do it. BUT....I knew I could write.

He asked me Friday evening while I was visiting with them and then at mom's house that night, by myself, I wrote a few notes as I gathered my racing thoughts on Richard.

Me (13), Jeff (13), and Richard (14 yrs old) at Jeff's house 

On Sabbath morning, I met his older brother and a few friends for breakfast and then the rest of my morning was spent sitting in my bed writing my thoughts. When I was finished (just 3 hours before it was supposed to start), I texted his brother Geoff and asked if someone could read it and edit it because it was too long.

Again, sick to my stomach, I headed back to his old house again and his father said he would be happy to read it. I sat next to him as he sat down and I couldn't help by quietly sob in that chair as I recalled in my mind what I had written...and what he was reading about his son for the first time.

He said it was perfect and I breathed a sigh of relief. His dad is a great speaker and pastor and I knew that he would know if I had done Richard justice with my words.

I thought that the friends who didn't make the service for whatever reason might enjoy reading what was shared by me. A very kind lady who has known them forever read my words for me.

Richard (19), me (18), and Jeff (18) at our high school graduation
At the end of the service, our very close mutual friend Jeff, actually did go up front and share some special memories and words and I know it was so difficult for him. But he also said just the right things and actually made me laugh out loud through my tears and miss the old days where the 3 of us spent so much time together all over again.

My Words For Richard

I met Richard when I was 11 or 12 years old when he moved to our town...I don’t remember which age exactly, but that means I’ve known him for about 20 years. And that’s the majority of my life, when I actually stop to think about it. 

He is a constant & one of the most important people in my mind of my growing up years...all the way into college...so this last week has been one of the hardest weeks in my life. Whenever our friend, Jeff M-----, and I get together or talk, Richard and his stories are the first things we start talking about. Even all these years later, we start out by saying...."Remember when Richard........" 
There are so many memories....too many to share here, but I can honestly say they are all good memories.  And by good, I mean they all make me laugh out loud or say to myself...’Oh, Richard....’ with a big smile on my face. If you knew him well, then you know what I mean. 
Our class loved him, which was interesting now as I look back, because he pulled some of the craziest stunts that most of us would never have even thought of and most of the other kids that tried things like that were not thought of as “cool”. But Richard was. The name “Richard M-----” will always be like a legend to us and I get excited when I think about telling my kids of him and all the things we did together as they get old enough to understand. 
I’m not sure if Jeff is going to share this story, but one thing I’ve been thinking about this week was how he came to school one day, but somehow crawled up into the ceiling at school after the teacher had taken attendance. He and our other friend, Wade R----, had this all planned out, but none of us knew for sure where Richard was. Wade, on the other hand, was hiding all during 1st period in one of the cupboards in our classroom. This was when Richard was 15, by the way. Our class lined up in the hallway to head to the gym, and I will never forget hearing “Pssst” really quietly from overhead. Richard had removed one ceiling tile and was laying on his stomach on an air conditioning tube, with his arms and legs wrapped around waving at me as I walked right under him. I just about fell in the floor laughing. The look on his face is something I’ll never forget because as he was saying “Ssshhh” I could tell he had the biggest silent laugh going on and a twinkle in his eye. 
Even after all the mess he pulled on our teachers that last year of school in 1993, he stood up with our class at graduation and I will never forget the huge grins on everyone’s faces as his name was called and he walked up to shake hands with our Principal. We screamed and yelled his name and he was beaming with happiness. I can even see it on the picture I have, our teachers were grinning and clapping for him, too. They truly did love him, but just hadn’t known what to do with such an adventuresome guy all year. 
Richard and I spent many, many hours together during our teenage years. His family lived in the same neighborhood and right down the street from mine. Our other friend & classmate, Bryce R------, also lived there on a different street. (And how weird that all 3 families still own the same homes? That was very nostalgic for me yesterday as I drove back into this town from my home a few hours away and all those memories came flooding back.) Richard could cut through the woods in the back of his house to Bryce’s and then they would walk down the street to get me. Or we would call each other and say “Meet down at the corner” and we knew where to go. Richard would start walking first down the street, I would wait for him on my front step and pick up with him as we would head down the hill to meet Bryce. Richard and I spent a lot of times by ourselves as well out there. 
We walked that neighborhood for hours...after school, on weekends, and during the summertime, just talking and joking and exploring everywhere out there. Richard usually had some sort of a knife and would be cutting tree limbs all over the place or carving things out there while we talked. Or he would be teasing me. I remember the little tiny bridge on B----e Lane that we would walk to down by my grandmother’s house. There was usually not any water down there, but we would climb down and throw rocks while we talked about everything under the sun. I remember how Richard would give me piggyback rides or just pick me up and run through areas when I wasn’t going fast enough for him. None of us were old enough to drive, so we were still able to be just kids. I’m so thankful that my parents were able to trust all of us to spend hours alone, because they were such special times. 
Richard also spent a lot of time at my house. He loved my mom and would tell her his heart for hours upon hours. I remember how he wanted to go everywhere with our family and also would hitch rides with us over to Jeff’s house...which was his second home. My family and I would be getting ready to go somewhere in the evening, sometimes not even knowing that Richard needed a ride, and we would walk out the door and in the darkness all we would hear was his deep, slow voice: “Do you guys mind if I come?” My mom and I would scream and look and all we could see were his eyes and his sheepish smile in the night. I will never know why he wouldn’t knock at our door on those nights, but we always said yes and he would climb on into the van with us. 
We went to camp meeting together and my mom would drop us off. We would sometimes go to the meetings, but most times we would skip out and go running all over the campus here just being teenagers. People that saw us thought he was my boyfriend, but he never was. Not even once. Just one of my best friends that I’ve ever had. 
Richard was one of the most physically strong people I have ever known. I still remember how strong his arms were when we were teens. It still baffles me as to how he was like that when all of our other friends were so scrawny. :) And I know how strong he was because he loved to play jokes on me. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times he whipped me up off my feet at Jeff’s house and threw me in that pool. It was like the most effortless thing for him. It didn’t matter if I was fully clothed or in my swimsuit. I always ended up in the pool because of Richard. I remember a very specific time when he and I and Jeff M----- were all in his room hanging out. We had been swimming that day and all of a sudden he picked me up and tossed me on the bed and then rolled me off on the other side in a little corner. He and Jeff started piling what seemed like a million pillows on me and then they both sat on me. I will never forget his wild laughter at how I never saw it coming. And I was so mad because I couldn’t breathe. They finally let me out and I remember yelling at both of them, but it didn’t last long. He would have never hurt me and I knew that. I couldn’t stay mad for more than 5 minutes. 
And that was an important thing about Richard....I would have trusted him with my life. Even back then, I knew he wouldn’t hurt a fly. I know his parents will cringe when I say this story, but it’s a perfect example of my trust of him back then. (And my stupidity, but we won’t go there.) I remember going on our 8th grade retreat to C------ [summer camp] and hanging out with him and my boyfriend at the time. They were doing something so stupid and it made me nervous and I remember freaking out about it at them. They kept saying, it’s perfectly safe, Amanda....look...even you can do it. I remember my boyfriend explaining how it worked and I was skeptical. Then I looked at Richard and I said “Richard, tell me the truth. Will it hurt?” And he said “Manda - you know me, I would never hurt you. You know that.” So I let him do it. And for any young people that might be listening.....don’t EVER do this at home (because it was stupid...please remember I was only 14 years old), but I let him light my finger on fire. And he was right, it didn’t hurt because he knew just how to do it, and right when it started to feel warm....he was the one that quickly put a wet towel around my hand and put it out before I even had a chance to say it. I truly trusted him. 
It didn’t matter if he made fun of me or made up horrible nicknames for me or broke my finger that time playing dodgeball or even quit talking to me for a while when I got my first serious boyfriend....I knew he loved me as one of his dearest friends. I would say that it’s a cliche that he was the guy that would give you the shirt off his back....but it’s not, because he did. Countless times he would give me a t-shirt because I liked it or take off his top shirt if I got cold. He always wore 2 shirts and that’s how I picture him in my mind. 
There was a bond there between the three of us (Jeff, Richard, and I) that will never be forgotten and I don’t think a lot of people have that at such a young age. I look at my own kids and I hope and pray that my daughter will find such a loyal guy friend in her teen years. No strings attached, no expectations, just purely a dear friend to confide in and trust. That’s what Richard was for me and I was for him. 
My very last thing to share is this memory: When Richard and his family moved away from our town it was 1993. We were graduating from 8th grade that year and the big tape out that year was BoyzIIMen’s Cooleyhighharmony album. We wore that thing out. Walking the roads, listening to it on a Walkman and there was this one song that I used to cry about whenever we would listen to it because I knew he was leaving soon. It was the one called “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday”.  How strange & heartbreaking it was to listen to that song again this week and realize how fitting the words were for that time, but even more so for today. I can’t say the words for you now because it’s too difficult, but the lyrics I keep trying to focus on through my tears are these: “And I’ll take with me the memories, to be the sunshine after the rain.” I loved him dearly, even though we had lost touch in recent years due to having our own families and not living near each other. 
What a caring friend, a soft inside with a tough exterior, who would have done anything for a friend. He was one of the best friends I have had in my life. I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll see him again and that keeps me going through this time.....and when I see his face, he will have that wild laughter and big huge contagious smile and will hug me so tight he could almost crush me and that twinkle in his eye will be there once again. 

Friends - please continue to pray for his family and friends whose hearts have been affected. Thank you, Amanda.

(If you are reading this in an email post or a reader, you will have to click on the actual blog site to hear the song at the end. Thanks.)


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