Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Goodbye Richard

Richard! James! Stuart! Thomas! was always the call from downstairs at my in-laws home. My mother in law definitely wanted to speak to one of her boys but it always took her a few goes before she got to the right one. I guess that's what happens when you have five children. Indeed I often found myself referred to as one of the boys. My sister-in-law usually escapes the boy label. However, it becomes second nature to answer the call after a while. 

Sadly, one of her boys died last week. Most people would write, lost, at this point. For me, I think because I was a doctor, in another life, I find euphemisms for death upsetting. I don't think they lessen the blow, I think they confuse and don't honour the dead. 

Yes, Richard died last week. It still doesn't feel real. I imagine it won't for some time. He died suddenly and without his family. We were arriving en masse to his parents' house to celebrate his brother's 40th birthday. I truly hope there was, a caring nurse or medical student, someone with him holding his hand in his final moments. I'm sure we'll never know but I have to believe people were caring for him when we could not.

I first caught sight of him in my first term at University. He came down to see how his little brother was coping in the big city (it was certainly a big change for Bean!) and they went to the Millennium Dome and the human body exhibition. Whilst Bean and I were an item, I'm sure I was far too much of a scaredy cat to actually meet him. "What happens if he doesn't like me?!?"

It probably wasn't until Christmas of 2001 when I met him properly. I have no recollection of our first meeting (I was mostly drunk because I was so nervous!). I guess he always seemed like he was a bit too mature for my silliness. How wrong was I!

Luckily, for me, over the years I saw him more and more. He truly became the older brother I'd always wanted, he wanted to protect me from my ills but he also made sure I was in my place by teasing me relentlessly. I hope he saw me as the little sister he never had the pleasure of menacing as a child.

Some of my favourite memories of my wedding are with him centre stage. He was a trooper on the day and I really never thanked him enough. I guess you never can. I don’t believe in heaven and I’m not at all spiritual but I hope he is at rest (oh, he could sleep anywhere) or tucked up with his Economist and some ridiculous cat videos. I can hear him chortling away now.

Over the past few months it’s been incredibly hard for Bean and me. All of Bean’s family have been unbelievably amazing but Richard was always the first to send me a message, the most hideous flowers (it was like he was ordering from a blind florist!) and the tackiest trinkets. He knew how to make me smile when no-one else could and whether that were by luck or design I’m so sad I will never be able to return the kindness. Or at least recycle some of his hideous gifts. I have resolved raise a glass to him every year on his birthday in one of the ugliest glasses in world. Thank you Richard, now I can never throw it away, you utter beast!

I last saw him at the start of May for Bean’s birthday. He was full of smiles. He’d just been to the trampolining caves in North Wales. That was Richard, always doing the weirdest and awesomest things. While most people exist, he lived. It’s such a cliche but he did so much, explored the world. His passport must be full. His facebook was a gallery of joy. His life was joyful. He had wonderful friends and a family who loved him so dearly.

I think only family can truly tease each other without malice and how I used to tease him about his crazy choice of a dishwasher over a washing machine. Why, Richard, why?! He loved to tease me about becoming a crazy cat lady. Hardly a stretch of the imagination! He added something special to my life. I’m grateful he introduced me to Punchdrunk, that he tolerated my drunken singing (for a bit) and my clumsy attempts at setting him up with girls and that if a corny pun was needed that he was on hand to serve it.

He was and always will be one of the dweebiest, silliest, clever men I will ever know. He knew and had an opinion about everything. I will never win an argument against him. People think Bean is bright, Richard was in another league. Whilst I giggled at cat pictures, he examined the world. Perhaps that will be a little legacy to me. I will try and look outside my computer once in a while. Breathe in the world he observed so clearly.

Grief is relatively involuntary and methodical although it affects everyone at different speeds. At present I can’t get past the thought that he will never be a father. It breaks my weak heart. His children, oh my, they would have been so loved, so wise and a little bit weird. I guess we are all mourning the loss of a future. A future that was meant to be so bright.

Whilst I'm not sure if Bean and I will ever have children and I'm not sure whether we will name any Richard or Richardetta (he would have loved that!) I am sure they will know their Uncle Rich, he will smile down at them from our walls and our hearts.

He was one of life’s good guys. Oh how we need the good guys. Most of you will never have met him but without him the world is a little bit more dark. However, as Banksy (of all people) says, 
“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”
And I know that his name will be called again by his mother, calling all her boys together. I hope she always mistakes them for Richard so he's never far away. It may bring tears but his memory will also always bring a smile. 

I love you. I miss you. I will try and look after your brother for you. I promise.

Sleep well my darling xxx


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