THANK YOU, RICHARD FROM TEXAS…and rest in peace.

Dear Ones —

Today is the birthday of my dear friend Richard from Texas, who passed away in 2010.

I loved this man so much, and I miss him constantly.

Many of you came to love Richard, too, from the minute he walked onto the pages of EAT PRAY LOVE. His influence and guidance over my life was certainly incalculable — as was the joy of his company.

Richard was a trickster and an outlaw by nature, which made him such an unusual candidate for a spiritual teacher (although maybe not, since there's an awful lot of trickster energy in the universe.) We always had adventures together that bordered on the illegal and the illicit — or sometimes even crossed that border.

The last time I saw Richard alive, he'd come to visit me in New Jersey, and somehow he convinced me to break into an abandoned house with him. We'd just been driving around the countryside, and he saw this big old empty house, and he wanted to check it out. It was totally illegal, of course, and also a bit of a complicated operation. (There was a ladder involved, "borrowed" from an old barn, and the jimmying of windows and locks.) The whole time, he was totally relaxed. Richard climbed up to slip into an second-story window while I held the ladder for him, quite nervously (I am NOT an outlaw).The whole time, he was grinning like a kid — like a very naughty kid — while I kept saying, "I can't believe you're a spiritual role model to millions!"

I'll never forget Richard grinning at me from a window on the second floor of that abandoned house, saying, "Groceries! You gotta come in here and check it out! It's AMAZING!"

I said, "How am I going to explain this to the police, if they drive by and see me holding this ladder?"

He said, "I'll hide, and you tell them it was an accident. Tell them you didn't know it was private property."

I said, "Richard, I'm holding a LADDER!"

He said, "You're a writer; you can make up a good story for the cops if they show up," and then he vanished into upstairs of the abandoned house — though he kept popping his smiling face out of various windows to tell me what a great time he was having.

This is how I always picture Richard up in heaven — popping his head out of various windows to grin down at me. Daring me to take risks. Laughing at my fear. Way up high in an unknowable world. Having a ball.

I love you, Richard. Thank you for the laughter, the lessons, the felonies!!!


via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall