I don´t know why the title of this post is So Easy. I guess I will know when I´ve finished writing.
I was planning to name it A Special Friend. But. Ok. Crazy as I am, I let impulse take control over my impulse control. Sometimes that´s a good thing. Let us see where it leads us today. Following those loops indeed…
I had a friend. A very special friend. He lived in Bergen, Norway. I met him on a dancefloor one Saturday night. Actually it was the 3. of November 2003. He just suddenly stood right in front of me there. Same height as myself, dressed in army jeans and a t-shirt, like myself, slim and athletic, he just stood there suddenly, looking me straight in the eyes, all serious. I recognized him immediately. You know that feeling? I knew that I knew him. Though I had never seen him before, as far I could remember.
We spent that night dancing, and from then on we were lovers and friends. I did not want to commit to a steady relationship, as I had moved out from my ex boyfriends´ place just 7 months prior. I needed time alone, to find my feet again, be free to be me, uncompromisingly, like everyone needs to, after a break-up.
Richard understood this need completely, and never tried to convince me to do anything I didn´t want to do. He was very openminded and openhearted, a very generous and caring man, exact same age as myself, we were both 31 when we met.
He was a very fascinating person. He had been the lifeguard of the president of Uganda, and hence had been forced to flee his country when the army took over the power. He had two children back home, and an ex wife. He also had an orphanage that he had built and kept on running from his address in Norway. He had a mother whome he loved very dearly. Many friends in Kampala.
In Bergen when I met him he had just arrived as a UN refugee. He was very African in his thoughts and actions, and I loved that about him. The way he spoke, the way he laughed from the depth of his belly, that great big smile… he was full of stories from his childhood, and comparative cultural anecdotes, about how things seemed to him the same or different between Ugandan culture and Norwegian culture. He got involved in the Red Cross, especially their Multimix group where young people from all countries met up and got to know each other. He started an NGO called “Guide for Better”. He was writing on a screen play about troubled youth, he worked in an old people´s home, he was active in the church and had many friends both Norwegian and from all over, he always said “I´m not from Uganda, I am from Earth”, he did not, like many do, “stick to his own”, he met all people who crossed his path with an open mind and with a smile. He had a person in his life that he referred to as “my Norwegian mother”, he was a very social and kind and caring man. Always reaching out, offering a helping hand.
Well. We saw each other for 3 years, sporadically, both busy with our individual everyday things, but always happy to see each other from time to time. Then I fell in love with someone else. Told Richard I was going to move to Denmark with this guy I was with. He was happy for my happiness, though sad to see me go, so far away. We agreed we would stay in touch. Friends for ever.
He started in training to be a welder in the oil industry. So the times I was back in Bergen visiting, he was always away. We wrote each other sometimes. Then the Summer of 2013, I went to Bergen, and low and behold he was there too, so we met up. He came out of the city centre to where I was staying with my husband and 3 kids at my old girlfriend´s place, where she lives with her English husband and their two sons.
I was quite…not nervous but… eager….to see how it would go, the meeting between Richard and my husband. But knowing them both, of course they were just both totally calm and polite and warm towards each other. I was so relieved. This meant I could keep Richard in my life somehow, keep the friendship and let it develope, I so treasured his views on things, his sense of humour and his loving heart, and I knew my husband would too, when he got to know him. Richard would also love my husband´s ways, and my kids would have a wonderful unclefriend in him. I walked him to the train after we all shared a good Asian meal, and we were both so happy realizing we would see more of each other in the years to come than we had in the last 6 years since I had moved to Denmark. We hugged, and his train arrived. He said, oh I have some great news actually, shall I wait for the next train? I said no, I better get back to the others so they don´t worry, he said yes, you are probably right, gave me his wonderful big smile and jumped on board the train, waving out the window.
I went back to my girlfriend´s, and our holiday continued. I felt so peaceful and relieved. Like a missing piece in my life had fallen into its perfect place, present yet again. I was so grateful for my husband´s lack of jealousy. He had no reason to feel threatened either. But many men would not have been able to accept Richard like that, a man who meant such a lot to me and who used to be my lover.
We went back home to Fanø. Richard texted me a few times, I texted back. He called me on the first of August. I reassured him our deal was still on, we would stay in touch and be in each other´s lives more actively from now on.
Then there was silence. I texted him a couple of times. No reply. Strange. Unlike him. I wrote him that I was trying to contact him, could he please reply. Nothing.
Until about the 10. of August. I received an email on facebook. From Finland! I knew no one in Finland. It said Hello, I am the cousin of Richard´s. He has told me about you and therefore I now contact you because I sadly have to tell you our Richard has died.
Police had found his body in the harbour. They think he must have fell in and drowned, the Saturday night 3. of August. Where he had been out downtown Bergen, dancing. More than that, we will never know. Was he pushed? Or did he just fall? No use in thinking about it.
Me and my eldest daughter went to Bergen to Richard´s funeral. Met his cousin, and Richard´s friends. They all embraced us whole heartedly, telling me and my daughter they would be there for us like Richard had wanted to be there for us, he had told them all about us and they knew he loved us dearly. My child, as far as they were concerned, now had an uncle in Finland and an aunt in Bergen. It was a beautiful funeral. His cousin read three of my poems up in the church. Around his grave as they lowered his white coffin, stood people from all over the world. His friends. Richard´s cousin said anyone who wanted to, was welcome to speak. And so many of them did. One sang a funeral song from… I don´t remember which country. Very moving. Others spoke of how they had met Richard and how special he was to them, always optimistic and supportive, never judging people, so full of laughter and advice. Me myself I didn´t speak. I just didn´t know what to say. Richard´s recent ex girfriend was there too, with her mother. I didn´t want to disturb them with talk about my relating to him. I also had my 7-yearold daughter in my arms. It was….. I just felt silent within.
After the burial we all went to a café downtown, where Richard always used to go, he was friends with the owner. My girlfriend who had been looking after my baby boy while we were at the funeral, came with us. So we spent the day there together with our new aunt and her lovely, grown daughter, with Richard´s many friends, his cousin, his ex girlfriend and everybody else. At one point me and my daughter were taken to Richard´s friend Sam´s place, where all Richard´s belongings had been stored. We were allowed to choose a few of his things to take home with us. I took a pair of checkered trousers, a belt, a t-shirt and a hat I remember he wore the day we met. My daughter chose some of his shirts, a table cloth, some other small things. We put it all in one of his rucksacks. The rest was to be sent to his kids in Uganda. The day before the funeral, at aunty´s place, my daughter had also received Richard´s guitar and his blue welding glasses. They knew she was dear to him. I was touched to learn he had spoken of us so highly and so often.
In the time passing after the funeral, we have stayed in touch with uncle in Finland. And when him and aunty from Bergen went to visit Richard´s kids in Uganda, they sent lots of photos. Then Richard´s kids, both teenagers, connected with me through facebook. We now talk from time to time, about school exams and what not.
To get involved. “I stretch as far as my arm reaches, ” Richard always used to say. His second name was Asiimwe. It means Grace. It is a name that describes him well.
I now have friend-family in Bergen, Finland and Uganda. Loving, beautiful people. My Richard´s closest people. His circle, us.
To love and be loved. When we just open up and accept what is.
I miss you, my Richard Asiimwe. You were so special, such a rare person, so generous, so wise, so inspiring. I love you. Thank you for being an important part of my life.
So easy to suddenly lose one´s life. And so easy still, to shed tears in sorrow over losing you. I hold on to the way you so easily always could see the positive in everything.
Until we meet again, mr. Grace.