I wasn’t sure if I should write about him … because he isn’t mine to write about. We broke up almost 3 decades ago after dating and living together for over two years. He was my first love.
We met at work. I was the youngest of interns – barely 20-something – and was invited camping up north to beautiful Killbear Provincial Park with the group. Group of Seven country. I didn’t know most of them, but wanted to fit in with the crowd and have a good time. There was room for me in Richard’s “condo” … the big, huge tent that could warehouse all of us in the rain. If I remember correctly, we did, in fact, put that tent up in the rain.
Perhaps my soul knew. For months I have been talking about Killbear and thinking about Richard.
He called me “Girl” and he kissed me under the stars for the first time. Rick and I saw the northern lights that weekend … my first and only time. He was 7 years older than me, but that never seemed to matter. He was one of the most grounded, calm, “Everything is gonna be alright” kind of guys I’ve ever met. He made Adidas shorts look hot. He had an unassuming sense of humour, loved irony, but rarely directed sarcasm at anyone but himself and life. I never saw him mad, and there were moments he deserved to be.
If you hear me say “No problem” … I got that habit from him. His signature statement, even while battling an epic storm out at sea on sailboat. He had a quiet, mischevious smile. A talented hockey player who helped me claim third place in the hockey pool at work. A social leader who banded people together for drinks, parties, trips, weekends camping and at cottages.
We would drive into work Monday mornings from his cottage on Chalk Lake. I drove by there several weekends ago while en route to Little Britain, and had the urge to drive up the road, still thinking about him. I felt the lake calling to me. But I didn’t drive in. I wondered when they closed the pipes from the spring that fed the lake. Cars used to line Lakeridge Rd. to bottle the water. I will go back one of these days, as the lake is not far from where I live. For Richard. To touch that water and pick up a pebble along his old shoreline of the lake. I spent many afternoons watching him windsurf. He was a talented sailor who stranded us on the other side, only when he wanted to.
If I said something off colour (I have been me for a long time), Richard had this adorable way of wrinkling his nose when he laughed, then he would admonish me with “Girl, you shouldn’t say that!”
He was gorgeous on the inside and out, very fit (his nickname was Arnold Schwarzenegger), great hockey player, educated and a star in his career in IT with prestigious fund companies. Most of all, he was patient and kind.
Rick was the first guy I knew who was conscious of what food he put in his body. We rarely ate processed food, and I credit my love of “clean eating” to him. His Dad would cook the most wonderful comfort food of cornish hens and rice in the pressure cooker. And soup … Helmut made the most lovely soups. I loved being in their home and kitchen.
Never refusing a brewski, we would all pile into that blue Tercel with his sister and head downtown for some bar time fun. That’s 20-something me on the far left next to Elaine. And who remembers CFNY? We rocked it. Relax (Welcome to the Pleasuredome) by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Rock the Casbah by the Clash.
In that photo I have his ring on a chain and the pearls he gave me around my neck.
When I posted my (other) blog entry Red Light on July 22nd, the story took place in Yorkville. Long ago memories of lunches there with Richard surfaced. He and I often went to an Italian resaurant for a scrumptious Fettuccini Porcini. We worked around the corner on Bedford Ave. I wondered if the restaurant still existed.
My mind had reached out to him countless times over the last year.
My parents loved him, and for the first time since my Mom’s death, I felt the need to talk to her. I wanted to tell her the sad news. “Mom, Richard passed away.” She would be shocked and saddened, as would my Dad.
I loved his family so much that they kept my dog, Max, to give him a proper home, when I couldn’t. I knew he was safe and loved there. I had to shut down that part of my life to keep going.
The company we worked for was going in different directions. Rick was leaving and made sure I knew all the CL Commands for the IBM AS/400 so I would ace my interview … And I did, landing a roll as an Operations Manager. We both left for greener pastures. I owe him thanks for my career, as well.
We drifted apart as I began working long hours with a younger team. I wasn’t sure what direction I was going in.
I look back and honestly don’t know why we split up, except that I was young and foolish. Years later, we lived on the same street, went to the same gym and still did things together. He was always a gentleman. I didn’t deserve him.
Our careers in the same industry kept us in touch and running into each other, but then marriage and kids took us to different corners of the stratosphere. I lost touch of where he and his family were living, as they travelled to many foreign contries. I looked to see if he was on social media, but never found him.
All of us who worked at Dataline had a pact of turning up at the Keg Mansion on July 1 every year to see who was still there. I am sure it was Rick’s idea. I don’t know who, if any, still go. But I will next year.
To honour Richard.
If any of us were to go early, the last one I would think it would be was Richard.
As I rang the bell heralding the announcement of the end of my chemo treatment, Richard succumbed to his illness and cancer. He would have been 59 this October.
I don’t know why some of the best souls have to leave so early. I pulled out the pearls he gave me so long ago, tears spilling as I held them. The should haves, the could haves, the would haves, the wishes. Who knows. I wish I had a chance to see him or have a conversation with him before he was gone… but he lived far away in Mexico … and I am not really entitled. My heart breaks for his wife and children, and my friend, his sister. It’s not fair that he is gone so early. So much life. So much promise. He is an integral part of so many people’s good memories. So many hearts and souls touched.
Cancer, you really suck. You took the best one this time.
À la prochaine Richard … until we meet again, my friend.
Don’t you (forget about me) by the Simple Minds. I won’t. Not ever.
Read the blog @ Pink Dot Detour
© Pink Dot Detour 2017