I met Rich soon after Anita and I got together. She’d talked quite a lot about him, and so I was interested to meet him. I’d love to say that we were best of friends straight off, but that’s not how these things work, and doubly so with Rich. He was never the noisiest voice in the room (at least not when sober), nor was he often the centre of attention. But he was smart and kind, and it was clear that he cared very much for his friends.
Over time, as we got to know one another, he and I found common interests. Gaming, football, cars, politics, travel, food - we could talk for hours agreeing and disagreeing without getting bored. He had an opinion on most things, but I can never remember him trying to force it on others. He wasn’t like that. I can be, and when I was, I’d see him sit back with a little smile and wait for me to notice I was doing it. Sometimes he had to be very patient.
Over the years I’ve had a long fight with mild depression, and one of the ways it manifests is that I can struggle to maintain enthusiasm for social contact. I’ll be full of excitement for a trip or a night out, but if it’s not shared, then I can easily find myself not wanting to go out. Rich was always up for everything, and that was so valuable to me. I’d suggest a night out, and get non-committal replies, until it was suggested to Rich, and then he’d just say “sure” and then I’d be committed. I have lost count of the great times that I had, that I’d have missed out on without him. His quiet enthusiasm took us so many places, made so many memories.
When Anita and I had difficulties in our relationship, his was a supportive ear, even when he was getting both sides of the argument. He was just the right kind of judgemental, whilst still being mindful of each of us. He challenged me with new ideas and suggested new experiences, and it wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that he helped me become a better person. He was the best sort of matey uncle to my little girl, who loved her “Uncle Rich” dearly.
Rich died last Friday at the stupidly young age of 42. He’s left a hole in many hearts, and the one in mine is very large. I am going to miss him so very much.
There’s not much left to say, except that I cherish all the memories that he helped create. Of shared 40th birthday parties; holidays to the football in Milan, and the F1 in Spa; of “genfes” and ridiculous online gaming; and yes, even of his hats. I will try to honour his memory with these stories and more from time to time. And I’ll try to be a bit more “Rich” such was the measure of the man.
Goodbye matey. I’ll not forget you.