"The first three words that come to mind are passion, dedication and hard work. Like Stuart, he competed in every single sport, and did it the best. Connor was the flashier player; always had the brightest sport shoes, would pull all-star status moves around 3 defenders before sailing the soccer ball over the goalie, would always be up front during cross-country races and right when the finish line was in sight – he’d take off as though he just started his race. Many of you who do know Connor know that his passion is golf. Him and that obnoxiously bright lime green bag and lion putter-cover would be up on the golf course at the crack of dawn until after dinner. Everyone said he was a pleasure to play with and always brought out their most competitive sides. Connor won the Sechelt Amateur Golf Tournament in 2013 and the Roberts Creek Golf Tournament the year before that – not an easy thing, as many pros were making the long trek to the Coast from all over BC. He was constantly telling me about all the pros he beat in the lower mainland tournaments and how much money he would have won if he turned pro. His best friend Jesse informs me that his usual game consisted of a +2 handicap which is about an average game of 70-72. Without a doubt he was going to make the PGA tour… it was just a matter of time. Unlike Stu or I who usually make a plan on how to get from A to B, Con would just do his own thing – he knew that it would all work out in the end. His smile and laugh were absolutely infectious. His “RichBoi” alter ego could get anyone pumped up in a matter of seconds. Even though his muscles could scare off a small child, underneath that exterior he had the biggest and softest heart. Babies and puppies, or anything cute and small, he would melt over and just become fixated. Con was usually the fastest to jump on the opportunity to poke fun of our Dad and his impressions always had us crying of laughter at the dinner table. He was often the one to remind me to not worry about the small things and just appreciate where I was, what I was doing, and who I was with at the time. Don’t take anything for granted – I learned that the hard way I guess. Last summer, a few days before Con and Stu’s 21st birthday, Connor passed away. It was a week before he was suppose to leave for a college in Texas on a golf scholarship, to start his next adventure. This paragraph goes back and forth between past and present because I’m still not sure where everything fits in. All I know as that he was put on the Earth for so many reasons and in doing so he touched so many lives along the way. I’ve heard from a lot of people that after the first day of meeting Connor, it felt like you knew him. He held nothing back and loved with his whole heart. His legacy will continue through The Connor Richey Legacy Fund which has been created to financially aid golf lessons for elementary school classes (as Connor was teaching these lessons in the years previous) as well as to outstanding individuals with bright future careers in athletics. In his last selfless act, his organs were donated to individuals in need; both of his lungs, his liver, his kidneys, his corneas, and of course, his heart. He is constantly on my mind and I miss him so much but I know he will be guiding me throughout my entire life."
Okay let's get emotional. Steering away from the volleyball blogs (only for a second though, because Janie Guimond AND Week 3 of Grand Prix will be coming up super quick). But life calls…. Real talk:
Well, I guess this is a milestone that is unfortunately going to come every year. These days are a little bit strange to begin with... What do you call it? An Anniversary? Memorial? I have no idea, but either way it's happening. I guess for everyone else it's a day to remember and that's when they will all sit down and really think about it. For people who have never experienced a loss like this, it's hard to imagine how often it's on your mind. I go through my days thinking about Connor all the time. Alllllll the timeeee. He's in my thoughts when I'm happy, upset, nervous, needing a kick in the butt... Virtually every feeling and he's there. Having been so close to both of my brothers my entire life I’m still not used to the feeling of not talking to him. Even when I was away for trips or National Team we were always in contact regardless of where I was in the world. He kept me updated on his golf, home life, girl problems, and frequently told me how much he hated math (he was finishing up a math course before he went down to the States on scholarship). So naturally a few weeks after the accident, loneliness was starting to settle in and I was missing him more and more. As the days continue to go on it becomes pretty unbearable and I'm only just starting to come out of this feeling of numbness. Yes... You can be numb for over 12 months. That's a real thing. I still haven't even begun to deal with any of this as it's just the most impossible thought. Don't ask me how I survived my solo-expedition to Turkey because I'm not really sure - it was honestly getting through every hour on some days. It helped being in such a culturally-rich city where I could throw myself head first into exploring and learning about the history… I feel like I know Istanbul like the back of my hand. Overseas this past year, I had some pretty amazing people helping me along the way both at home and on my team (Rita… you saved me!) - and friends at home, you'll never understand your importance in those moments! Always having the feeling of loss surrounding me is a pretty impossible thing to get used to but I am trying to turn it around into a feeling of comfort - now Con is always with me. I'm never truly alone anymore and I guess that's a blessing (in a very heavy disguise). It’s not easy, but it helps to think about. He was the hardest worker I've ever met hands down and went after his dreams with everything he had. Nothing was impossible or so far out of reach - as long as you put your whole heart and soul into it, you can achieve anything. Grindtime, baby. What a way to live! As a result, I'm constantly reminding myself day in and day out to stay in the present and love what I'm doing (just like he did) because the opportunities that are coming my way are pretty special. For those of you who had the privilege to know Con, you know exactly what I'm talking about. His zest for life was so huge. Always living in the moment - why would you do something you didn't love? Why are you wasting time fretting on something that isn't necessary or really that important? Stu and I are both pretty straight shooters and like having plans. Connor challenged my entire family his whole life by always having a different way of doing things. It only made sense to go straight to university right after high school and then make the “normal” steps forward after that… Nah. He stayed at home to work after high school until he found his path and figured out exactly what he wanted to. I had so many texts from my mom about Connor not doing his math work (still so comical to me!) when it was absolutely necessary for him to finish it before he registered for classes down in the States. I would have to be the one to call him up and try my best to inspire a sense of urgency but it would always end in me agreeing with him; it would get done when it had to. He was usually up on the range or doing something better like working out and getting absolutely jacked (his biceps could injure the strongest of people). Patience, patience, Kyla... It'll work out. GAH!! Infuriating!
Background information: Out of highschool Con stayed home to work and decide what he wanted to do with his life. He went to the University of the Fraser Valley for a year but decided that school was just not his strong suit… he wanted to make it big in the golf world. He ended up getting a scholarship to a college down in Texas. Last year, he was gearing up for the most amazing adventure of his life (his big sister’s dream for him!!!) to head to school and get the opportunity to play. In my over-protective-big-sister-brain I already had it all planned out; he would head there for a year or two, transfer to some unreal NCAA school (after I came to visit Texas, of course), then turn pro and make it on tour. The reason why I know that would happen is because of how much he wanted that reality, and once he really found his passion in something he would get it done to the point of obsession. He was going to make it as a golfer, I absolutely know it.
I feel I am missing half of my heart and I don't think that hole is ever going to heal. However, I try to be thankful for the years and countless memories we had together as a family. My parents really are the best (best best best best!) and raised us in such an amazing and caring home. We had the most fantastic childhood growing up and had only the most support possible from the both of them. We were pushed and taught to work as hard as we possible could ("The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking" could be our family's motto). Each one of my family members completed the other and so I can say confidently that Con taught us an awful lot. We don't feel complete when we're together now because we will forever be missing one, and that's a very tough thing to swallow. But as I said, I am taking comfort in the fact that he's always with me now. I still remember crying somewhere and mom telling me that we're all going to get through this together, and come out of this as better people. Just the other day I had an individual meeting with my coach and he commented on the fact that I am already a stronger person than I was last year – I see things on a different level on and off the volleyball court which was a surprising thing to hear. Stuff like this changes a person and the effect that Connor had on all the people in his life is only positive. He inspired so many people and now is a reminder to live life to the absolute fullest. He taught me to love with my whole heart and to not hold anything back. What an incredible angel to always have by my side.
This post today is all about celebrating my brother. Too often we try and suppress feelings on a day to day basis, just to get by. But I decided that today is a day to celebrate his life… he was the most amazing person and will continue to forever be on my mind and in my thoughts, paving the way for me. For those of you who knew him, you have a special place in MY heart as you know a piece of my soul that not everyone gets to see. Thank you to the people who continually support my family and I through this time, on this day, and every other day. You will never understand how much it means to us.