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It is so easy to get lost in the judgment of people, that we often become blind to the beauty of them. It takes fucking courage to be a human. We are the only earth-bound beings who are forced to reckon with the awareness of our inevitable obliteration. We know, every second of every day, that everything we ever love will be taken from us. If not by utter shock, by time itself. One day we will no longer taste our favorite food. We will never touch the skin of our beloved. We will lose the ability to run, to play, and to dance. We will say goodbye to our parents and many of our friends. Sometimes holding their hand, and sometimes we will never know that it was our forever goodbye.

The horror of this reality would be inconceivable if it were not true. Death aside, we have all been through a break-up where we had to say goodbye to being with someone we love. Rich and I both experienced this deep grief when we separated from one another after 12 years together. This suffering alone is unbearable. To remember his smell, his laughs, his smiles. The endless ways we thrilled and delighted each other, and to know that I will NEVER have that experience again in the same way, with the same person. This is the deep cruelty of sensual love.

The easy thing to do right now is to look away. To close down my heart, and lock myself away from love. Everyone always talks about numbing the pain, but it’s not the pain that needs numbing. It’s the joy. Because a life that is grey and dreary is easy to leave and to forget. It has a simple solution. But a life vibrant in color and bliss, the way Rich chose to live and love… that is terrifying for most. Because the pain of letting that go might be the greatest pain of all. Yet Rich chose to love, to live, and to laugh through it all. That’s fucking courage. And that’s why Rich was so beautiful. Most people maintain an unconscious attempt to keep themselves safe, or happily locking themselves away in permanent ‘social distancing’, it’s all just a precious attempt to avoid the inescapable. Loss.

When Rich died suddenly, I realized that I didn’t yet have the kind of courage I was looking for. I was still protecting myself from living and loving to the fullest (again). That’s slowly starting to change. But as this new reality without him sets in, I catch myself looking back at the opportunities I missed to do this sooner. That time is gone though. And regretting the past only serves to prevent me from opening to the present.

To Rich, my hero: The one who drank from the screaming, pulsing, honeyed cup of ecstasy, the one that kept loving over and over again no matter who or what he lost, the one who took great risks, the one that looked at the gnashing fangs and erasing stare of the monster of Time and said “let’s do this”…To you, Rich, I bow in a deep and irreverent salute.You lived and loved with such gloried abandon. You inspire me. I will miss you forever and love you for always. Fly free my beloved xxx

Candice Lee