LOVE IN THE AIR

Several years ago now—I resisted the gym, which, I must say I thought was strange, but there was such a pull to be outside.  It had been coming—but this particular year—I couldn’t go back to the stuffy atmosphere and stationary workout equipment I knew so well. Something strong was calling me, so I went with it. I called it Gaia. I needed to walk—to feel the fresh air and sit by the beach. To commune with the palm trees and sand, the unique tropical birds and big bright green iguanas who watched me, silently; weird moveable eyelids and their prehistoric nature all became part of my experience.  And then one day it became routine. Every morning for almost two years I walked the neighborhood. In the process—I said hello to new faces and others became familiar on my walk each morning; soon I had old friends that I passed each day waving to and greeting with a smile. I watched the neighborhood change as houses were put up for sale and new families moved in. Other houses were remodeled, and their new beautiful renovations updated the quiet streets. Lawn and maintenance crews were always present somewhere along the way like standard fixtures. So were the police, waitresses—and the businesses of Lauderdale by the Sea and the community in which I lived; it was all mine.

And, then there was Richard. He worked as a maintenance man at one of the big elegant condominiums on the beach. Normally, most mornings when I passed by, he was out in front with a hose—washing the side walk. I said hello—and he smiled—and said hello back. Occasionally, as I got to know him better, we would chat for a few minutes. Never very long—as there were cameras everywhere he would say—and he wasn’t keen for trouble.  So, most mornings—it was a wave and a hello and a smile and a cordial wish for a good day. We all have people in our lives like this—and I enjoyed his smile and energy as much as he enjoyed mine.

And then, like the tide—I was called back to the gym. And, I would now only walk occasionally. Months later—while walking “my route”—Richard was out in front washing the sidewalk like always. I said hello—and he said, “where have you been?”  I told him I had gone back to the gym—he said he had missed me, asking for my number.

To my surprise, he called me. We met at Starbucks a few times to talk. I gave him one of my books. I learned he was a gifted musician and music was his passion. He was divorced. He had two children. He had been born in Jamaica. I shared my story too. But, most of all Richard was just sweet. He had a contagious smile and caring eyes. And, probably one of the nicest people I knew. Our friendship grew—and he would drop over to the house from time to time. He played his CD for me one day—and his voice and talent were amazing. I’d make him coffee if he’d had a long day—and we continued to talk about life; never shallow conversations. Our friendship was real and honest. I guess that’s what made it so special. When I was out of town and hurricane Irma was barreling in our direction—it was Richard who came over and hauled in all my stuff in and prepared my house for the storm. That’s who he was.

On October 29th he texted me at 8:09 am. The text said . . . “Good morning”. “Thinking bout u.” I respond back—“Good morning! How are you doing?” “im good can i stop by”. “What time?” I replied. “Now” he texted back to me. (I was in the middle of breakfast for my LAL students who live in my house—and still hadn’t had my coffee.) I texted him. “Later?”, I asked? “Ok i will try.” But that day went like a flash and we did not meet.

On November 5th my cell phone rang. It was a 305 area code and a number I didn’t recognize but I answered it anyway. “This is Richard’s friend Noel”, the caller began. “Richard died last night.” I paused, “Richard Friesland I asked?” “No Richard Harvey”, the gentleman replied. What? I paused drawing a blank for a nanosecond as my brain searched for meaning. “WHAT?” I said again. “How did this happen? When?” I was shocked—and told Noel—I needed a few minutes to process this untimely news. Richard was 43 and had young children. “How could this be?”, I thought to myself.

I talked to his brother Ian several times—he sounded just like Richard. I attended his funeral two weeks ago.  It was a celebration of his life! But, I miss him today. Without realizing it, he had impacted me in a very subtle and profound way. His brother said he talked about me a lot. I guess I had impacted him too.

As I reflect  on our friendship—I guess you never realize how somebody’s going to impact you—or what meaning they hold in store for you. And, how this “chance encounter” would affect me so deeply today.  I feel him around me. I “hear” his voice and laughter. I wonder if he is one of my guides now? I feel that he is. (My friend Annie confirmed this is in fact so.) And wonder now, if that is why I had such a pull to walk pulling away from the gym? I know there are no coincidences or accidents. I also know that there is no such thing as an inappropriate death.

Before his “graduation from earth school”, his young nephew awoke from a deep slumber—walked into his Mother’s bedroom and said, “Richard can’t stay. He’s got to go.” Two days later Richard was gone from a undiagnosed kidney infection.

I know that there was a love between us that was unexplainable—an undefined intense soul connection—that I for one didn’t understand. Maybe he did?

I think it is important with all the division and fighting, and angst in the world right now—and in the United States in particular, to create a unity with others. At the end of the day—we are all the same—all from the creative source—all with divinity inside. We must throw away the idea of separateness and embrace our Love for one another; one Human Being to another. This much I know is true. I think Richard did too.

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