I met my British friends, Richard and Ken, about 10 years ago on a Windjammer cruise in the Caribbean. There was a "meet and greet" party onboard the first night, and I remember that this American fella was seriously trying to chat me up. He was ex-marine or something, every conversation he started was about guns, killing, shooting, that kinda stuff. Not exactly my thing, and no way was I gonna put up with that for 2 weeks! So, intent on ditching him, I sent him off to fetch me a drink, and as soon as he left I ran over to a group of men I'd seen laughing and partying and begged them to help me escape the clutches of "Rambo". Richard and Ken were part of that group of men, and all the boys rallied to my cause. They rescued me that night and every other time Rambo tried moving in. The cruise was great fun, I thoroughly enjoyed the company of my new friends, and we had the beautiful Caribbean islands as our playground.
Richard and Ken were real cosmopolitan globetrotters. It was nearly impossible to keep up with their schedule of social soirees and houseguests, or to remember which destination they'd be jetting off to next. Over the years we kept in touch and got together as much as schedules and locations allowed. They visited me in Calgary some years ago for a taste of the Calgary Stampede. We met in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and Puerto Vallarta for some fun (and WAY too many margaritas!) in the sun. While in Europe in 2004 I had the good fortune of visiting them at their homes in both England and Spain. It didn't matter where we were, I always had tremendously good times with my friends Richard and Ken.
Richard had opinions on matters such as life and love and, well, on just about everything! He was always willing and happy to express his opinions and dish out advice. With his great sense of wit, conversations with him were never dull! But he was always a supportive friend as well, and would be the first to remind me, when I was being a little too focused on one or the other endeavor, that I needed to have some fun every now and then - and a bit of sex too!
Richard's health started giving him some problems over the last year, maybe even the last two. But that didn't stop him and Ken from continuing their world travels and enjoyment of life. Their latest plans were to vacation in South America - going via cruiseship from Santiago in Chile, south around Cape Horn, over to the Falklands, and ending up on the other coast in Buenos Aires. When I knew I was returning to South America, I contacted them for their trip dates and made plans to meet them both before and after their cruise.
As I was enroute to Santiago, I received an email from Ken advising that Richard had had some new health complications and was in hospital. He was making good recovery, but needed additional treatment and monitoring, and his doctor was recommending they cancel their trip. I was disappointed to say the least, but it was of course more important that Richard remain at home where he could have his health properly looked after.
Unfortunately, about a week after that, I received another email from Ken. This time with the worst possible news. Richard had again been taken to hospital, and passed away on February 6, 2007.
It's never easy dealing with the death of a close friend. I have recent knowledge of that. Somehow I thought it might be a little "easier" when you knew the person was ill, when you've had a little time to prepare. But it's not. And I had so wanted there to be just one more time together with my friend Richard...
Up until recently I've been lucky; I've never had to deal with the death of a close friend or family member before. Now I've lost 2 close friends within 2 months. I've always considered myself an emotionally balanced person, but my emotions are on a real roller coaster ride these days.
I've tried to find the words to properly express how I feel about losing another friend, but this time adequate words fail me. Richard was a tremendous friend, we had great times together, I was so lucky to have known him, I will miss him forever.