5 Year Anniversary

March 20, 2000
The First Day of Spring

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, 
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: 
for the former things are passed away.  Revelation 21:4

My Thoughts On This Fifth Anniversary

 As the seasons change, we become aware of the beginnings of Spring.  Thoughts turn to spring cleaning, spring training, spring break and getting our houses in order.  What a great season!  The smell of the air when the flowers start to bloom always put me in a happy frame of mind.  On March 20, 1995, the beginning of Spring took on a different meaning for us.  It was the first day of Spring that year and also the day we lost our son.

Did I ever think that a favorite time of the year for me would be etched in my mind with the feelings of grief and despair?  No, I didn’t.  That happens in other families, not in mine. 

It is 5 years this March 20th.  It seems like yesterday.  I can remember past Springs filled  with Little League practices, trips to Shea Stadium and getting our summer plans in order.  I cherish those memories.  And when I smell the air after a Spring shower or on a sunny Spring weekend, my thoughts always bring me back to those times. Yes, I have made progress in my walk thru grief.  I have to walk thru it. I cannot sidestep it. I have to face it in order to heal.  But the truth is we never completely heal, we adjust.  It is a very difficult walk for me.  But, I find my baby steps getting bigger.  I can think of more happy times than sad.   But when the smells of Spring permeate my mind, my old friend comes back with a vengeance. 

My old friend, Grief.   Why does he keep visiting me?  I read that Grief revisited is Grief acknowledged, and Grief confronted is Grief resolved.  So, if I am resolving it, why do I feel such a sense of loss on anniversaries and even when I don’t expect it?  It is because healing is not forgetting and even though I am moving on with my life it does not mean that I don’t take a part of Richie with me.  Grief has taught me that I can survive the worst loss, and although my life is different, it is my life and I must live it.  I hope that one day, I will flourish again in the season of Spring, not in spite of my loss, but because of it. 

So, on this day, I will try to enjoy the flowers in bloom and the sweet smell of Spring.  And I will try to do some spring cleaning in my mind.  I will try to get rid of the anger, the hurt and all the emotions that take up unnecessary space.  I will try to fill the space with fresh new thoughts and memories. Longfellow wrote: “ The heart hath it’s own memory...and in it are enshrined the precious keepsakes.”  And I will try to remember that Spring is a new beginning.  I guess that is why Richie left us that day.  So, I will start to plant and watch healing grow.  Richie would want that. Happy Fifth Anniversary in Heaven, Richie.  You are always in our hearts!  


Richie had many friends and I would like to share with you a letter that we received from one that was very dear to him.

A Friend Remembers

Hi Maureen, Dan & Kerri,

The website is great, and so were the pictures.  I can hardly believe its been 5 years since the day I received the first call from George Cummings, first call was telling me he was in the hospital, then one evening the other call came, once again from George.  

It was shortly after my own Mother's passing, so two people very dear to me in a three month span was very hard to take,  but as I pondered the why's and went through all of the feelings, first shock, anger, grief etc., I thought of the conversations with Richie, of the time he and George were here and we worked on The Big Joe Williams album together, and how the three of us loved music and making it together, George and Richie certainly more together than the 3 of us, but never the less, when we would get together it would fly like magic. 

I asked myself, how could this happen, and it was a quiet thought that simply stated, life and music are one and the same, they both have a beginning and an ending, they both have a rhythm and a beat.  A good life, just as a "HIT" song, has a "heart or soul", if a song or a life possesses that rare quality,  it lives forever!!  Richie's did possess that "hit quality”, and if Academy Awards or Grammy's were given for the Music in the Key of life, or if there were a "Top Ten Chart of people", Richie Russell will always be a "number 1 platinum" in my book of life.  

Ken W. Hatley,

Happy Anniversary in Heaven, Richie!

My Big Brother More by Kerri Daniel Diane
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