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Saying Goodbye To A Friend

Richard was about 9 feet tall. Kind. So kind. Generous, funny, passionate. He was just a man you really wanted to be around and he had a laugh which could rock your world. 

And boy. Outrageously handsome. I can't stress that enough. He was ri-dic-ulously beautiful. Inside and out. I'm mostly talking about the outside here. Wow. I mean, just LOOK at that face! >

We said goodbye for now, to our friend yesterday. Our hearts aching and angry denial bubbling as waves of thankful joy to know that he was ever even in our lives in the first place. I say this as someone so utterly on his periphery I can't even fathom how his family, his beloved Lee, and his close lifelong friends are even able to stand upright and go on. Such was the measure of this man that knowing him even just a little bit was enough to feel the punch to the chest when I heard the news.

Handsome, tall, impossibly perfect Richard was struck by Guillain-Barrè syndrome. This rare illness strikes between two and eight people in every 100,000, regardless of gender or age. Richard was 41.

Estimates vary, but around nine out of 10 people with Guillain-Barrè syndrome survive and approximately 75 to 90 per cent recover completely. Around 10 to 15 per cent will be troubled by some form of permanent disability. It can take anywhere from six months to two years or more to fully recover. 9 in 10 recover. 9 in 10. It's so wretchedly, shittingly unfair. 

I met Richard at Joe's Garage in Brunswick St, Fitzroy. Adam [Richard] and I went in for a coffee one day. We saw Richard at the bar and went back almost every single day for the next 3 years, straight. Actually, now that I think about it. Adam probably already knew there was something very pretty inside Joe's when he took me there. Yes. That's a much more reliable memory. :-)  Joe's was our place. It's where we met. Any excuse to meet. Much of Melbourne's late 90's comedy genesis happened in that bar, staring at that pretty man.  Wil Anderson. Justin Hamilton, Geraldine Quinn. Corinne Grant. Adam and I. It's where we wrote.  It's where we drowned our sorrows and celebrated our successes. It's where we went to flirt with Richard and eat food which wasn't always great and drink coffee which was often burnt. The constant at Joe's, our waiter was ALWAYS a handsome beacon of joy. I never saw him unhappy. 

We became friends with Richard. He encouraged our outrageous behaviour. He enabled our drinking and he supplemented our [at the time] meager incomes with "Oh this is left over" and "I accidentally poured this" and "I thought you ordered this?!"

For a while there Joe's did 'free bread'. Bread they baked on premises. It was heavenly delish. Richard would see us coming and bring extra bread and extra butter to our table. (Remind me again, how did we get fat?) We'd regularly sit there from our 11am breakfast til Richard came over, "So, I'm guessing you'll want to know the dinner specials?" Some nights we'd drunkenly leave, get on a tram and head down to the other end of Brunswick Street to the Italian joint for their "lemon meringue pie- without the meringue please." (it was very, very, very good) then we'd get back on the tram and sneak back in to Joe's for lock up. Someone would crank the music, Richard would dance around like... well... nope, there's nothing to compare it to. He'd dance around like a total Richard. Glorious! Or he'd sing, that massive baritone voice belting out of his perfect pie hole. And we'd drink! The next day? Repeat. The next day? Repeat. Next? Repeat. Repeat. Repeat! 

One particularly busy night in Joe's - it was ALWAYS busy in Joe's - Adam and I were at our table, we'd been there for hours and were not showing signs of going home any time soon. We were very possibly being loud and hilarious. Richard came over to our table with a baby's highchair "Ohmygod! is he trying to kick us out!?" He returned with a beautiful loaf of bread wrapped in a checked tea-towel and he stuck it in the highchair. "There's your bread baby." he poked two marshmallows in it for eyes and walked away. We squealed with delight, caved a hole in it's face for a mouth and we berated and yelled at our baby (as we slowly ate him) for the rest of the night. 

I still can't look at a loaf of bread in a highchair without thinking of you Ricky. I'm 9 out of 10 furious you're not here to play with any more and 10 out of 10 thankful you ever were in the first place. Rest easy. Dance stupidly and laugh always.  You are SO loved. 

Thank you.