How Memory Works  

When someone dies it is strange to think about them. You don’t remember them in the last moment you saw them, you remember them all at once. All the time you spent together comes back as a flood of memories. Images rush back in, as your brain struggles to make sense of the crushing loss.

What I keep coming back to with Rick starts with this idea of a boy: so sweet and simple. Just a child. We are skateboarding, playing ball, talking, laughing. Then I get hit with this blur of moments. Nothing specific, but through them I get a sense of the man. The picture becomes clearer until I finally get a glimpse of him and a memory pulls into focus:

It is just this past Spring. After my Father’s death and I remember Rick’s hand on my arm. We were standing outside in my backyard and I was sobbing. He was so sensitive, so aware. He looked me in the eye and said, “I am so sorry.” But it was the fact that he held my arm that shook me. It was just a little longer and a little tighter than it was required to be. He meant it. He understood.

As the memory unfolds and he touches my shoulder it quickly morphs and contorts into something new; as quickly as it appeared my mind moves on:

Now, we are building a fort in the woods behind his house. We start running because we flipped over a log and uncovered a hornet’s nest. We are running for our lives. Screaming. Goofy kid stuff. We collapse in his backyard. He looks at me and laughs, “I hope this summer never ends.” And I want to tell him, “it doesn’t have to…it never does.”

My moments are not your moments, but I’m sure you have you own. In our memories we are left with the essence of Rick. The purest notion of his impact. It is that profound sense of goodness, of gentleness that stays. This is his legacy and his fingerprint on the world.

Time only exists so that we don’t feel everything all at once. The best way to honor Rick is to hold on to those good thoughts and slow our own time to allow him to settle into our hearts and minds for the beautiful moments we did share. In that way he is not gone and, those great memories we all have can live on for a summer that never truly ends.


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