"Hey Kid!"

Monday, October 20, 2008 4 Comments A+ a-

When I saw Melissa’s Facebook status mention a classmate’s death, I thought about sending her a message but decided a call would be better. I had thought the death was of another classmate who had been very sick but was shocked to hear of the passing our dear classmate, Rich F. Actually, shock doesn’t even begin to describe the emotions that swept through my mind. I don’t remember much of that conversation; my mind just went to a complete blank. (And Melissa, I’m sorry for the crying over the phone. Thanks for being so patient with me.)

As I hung up the phone and trooped down the stairs to seek solace from Jon, my mind kept going to back to this photo. I’ve posted it before, over a year ago, and I remember that night like it was yesterday. It was Jon and mine’s official first high school dance together and the five couples trooped to Denver to eat at the Trail Dust. The Trail Dust was infamous for cutting the ties off patrons and the girls had gotten the ugliest ties we could find for our dates. We ate Rocky Mountain Oysters and Rich kept us in stitches the entire night. Both he and Mike kept switching off cowboy hats and were just being them…funny, happy-go-lucky, them. It was a good night.

Much of Saturday was spent in a fog. High school days played through my mind like old movies; I thought of the numerous classes we’d taken together (mostly English for some reason), the pep rallies where Rich had no problem getting laughs from the crowd, he was a fixture as every football and basketball game, I can’t tell you how many times he cheered his friends from sidelines, and his smile! He always had that smile on his face, in fact, after talking to Marianne, we’re not sure if Rich ever did have a bad day. And if he did, we never knew about it.

Of course there was graduation but Rich and I still ran into each other at local events or Lucky Joe’s. In fact, the night of Christine’s 21st birthday, I ran into Rich at Lucky Joe’s and was instantly enveloped in a big hug. It was that night that he informed he was moving to California to pursue law school. I wished him luck and we promised to stay in touch.

This past summer we connected again via Facebook. And on Saturday night, I opened my inbox on Facebook to find one of his messages. “Hey Kid” the message line read and again the tears started to flow. I reread everything he wrote me. He was sorry to have missed the reunion and wished he could have come. But he was dealing with medical stuff at the time and couldn’t make it. He told me about life in California, how he was able to go surfing every morning before work, and how as soon as he was better, he was outta here and back in the ocean. It wasn’t a matter of “if” he got better; it was a matter of “when” he got better. Even when I pressed for details about this health stuff, he never told me it was brain cancer. We continued to chat for several days that week, and Rich told me that I had a beautiful family.

I rubbed the tears away again and opened my email; and there it was, the email that I’d missed from the night before. An email from Rich’s brother that has been forwarded to me from another classmate, Katie. I read Lee’s heart wrenching email, as he talked about Rich’s seven-month struggle with brain cancer. There were several times I had to clear my eyes, just so I could see the words one the screen. Then these words jumped out at me, “Even until the end, he was more worried about others than himself. “ And I smiled, that’s Rich.

Rich was one of the best that our class had to offer. He was a friend to everyone and always had that smile ready for anyone who needed it. Rich was, and will always, represent high school for me. You will be very missed, friend!

I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.


Write comments
9:25 AM delete

Aww honey... I'm so sorry. I've been there and will be praying for you and for his family of course! All my love!

Melissa King
10:32 AM delete

These are the same emotions and feelings that have been playing through my mind all weekend. Rich was always so happy and full of life. I had an almost identical email from him on Facebook titled "Hey Kid" too. I also have reread and reread it through teary eyes. Great tribute to a great friend! He will be missed!

6:45 PM delete

I am so sorry that you lost your friend. I can just hear your grief and pain. That he was so young makes it all the more sad.

Rich sounds like he was a wonderful and fun person to be around.

10:13 AM delete

Dearest Jenn,
So sorry for you loss and the pain.

What a blessing to have known such a wonderful person.

Those are the type of people that hopefully inspire all of us to be better people.

Hugs to you