Rickie and JenniferI don’t really know how to say good bye. It’s really a struggle.

For those who know me as a musician, this guy was my first fan. Over the years he gave me more encouragement than anyone. For that, especially, I will forever be thankful.

Rickie was uniquely Rickie.

We were childhood friends about as opposite as two can be. He had a seemingly insatiable penchant for mischief. I was always a very reluctant cowardly type. Socially, he seemed to be able to connect well with anyone, at least from my perspective. I was the brooding introvert. He was into everything, never wanting to miss out on a good time. But he never made me feel pressured to follow along. He was a class rebel. I was the good student.

The two things we did share, however, were a passion for music and a love of the water. Ultimately, we spent more time jamming together than fishing or water skiing on the bayou.

Rickie loved playing guitar. But learning to play guitar came a little easier for me, probably because I was more withdrawn from the rest of the world than Rickie. So he started to celebrate my abilities in ways that always made me feel special. It was support I desperately needed at times. His kindness had no bounds.

We briefly separated when I went to college. Then he decided to take a stab at the college life himself and tracked me down. I tried to help him adjust, but it seemed his free spirit couldn’t be contained for any extended period of time.

Years later, we connected again in Maryland. I had rebooted my life up there. He was bouncing around after getting displaced by a hurricane. That was an eventful era with many stories. So many things have happened since, but we never completely got out of touch. He made a point to follow every band I’ve ever been in. I could never leave a musical project or start one without wondering how I was going to explain it to Rickie.

Many times Rickie would call or write me and say, “Remember so and so?” He never seemed to forget anyone or anything that happened when we were kids and beyond. My memory was not so good.

But I won’t forget him.