Mr. Richie and I ended up chatting Saturday morning for quite a while. I didn't know what I was supposed to do after my dad died or how to handle it, so I asked about his experience. He told me about what had happened when his dad had passed and I shared what happened for me and what it was like going home. It felt odd to be reliving the events of just several weeks ago. It seemed almost like a whole lifetime ago. To those who attended the services, I'm sure it was a small blip in their memory, but to me, I was starting a different life without my dad.
It was somewhat odd (or maybe not really) the separations that I made in my mind. For instance, when I returned to NYC, even weeks later I could look at each item in my cupboard and tell you what was present before my dad had passed and what was purchased after. When I sorted laundry, I remembered what I was wearing that night I received the news. What I chose to wear the next morning in haste to inform the Office of Student Affairs and in tears at the airport counter and security.
He encouraged me to lean into my schoolwork, and I did.
"How many people do you know out there?" Mr. Richie asked me. He wanted to know that I had a support system out in NYC, but I had to be honest since I had just moved to the city in late-August, about a mere 2 months earlier.
Ah just overshoot it. "Like… 5 maybe? But maybe really like 2?"
Yikes, I couldn't lie to Mr. Richie.
"Okay," he said. I grimaced silently, holding the phone. I could tell he wasn't impressed. I'm more outgoing than I used to be, but really, there were only so many people I could get to know in the 2 months I had begun to settle into the city! After all, there were plenty of Mailman Core classes to attend and endless assignments to complete.
He asked me a bit more about how my family was doing and what everyone was up to these days. Before we hung up, he told me he'd introduce me to some people that he knew in New York City. Mr. Richie's just kind of one of those people who knows people everywhere. I thanked him and left to meet a friend for lunch (See? I did have friends). Little did I know, I'd be meeting quite a few people and chatting on the phone with several others over the next couple weeks.
I'd like to take a moment of pause to say that contrary to what this story might suggest, Mr. Richie and I weren't as close as you might imagine throughout the years since 6th grade. At times, we saw each other in passing because he ended up being the men's basketball coach at my high school later on. Other than that, we didn't communicate regularly. Rather, this was just the type of person Mr. Richie was.
In the time of my great loss, Mr. Richie provided what he could, and without asking. To me, that simply speaks to a depth of character beyond measure.