My heart is broken.

{photo credit}


He stood in the middle of his kitchen, opening his arms wide and said “naaah. I’m just Richie. Or Daddy.”  He hugged me tight, welcoming me into his home and his family. It was Thanksgiving 1998, and I was so thankful to be there.  I would have been alone in Los Angeles that year for the holiday but my {then new} friend Rachell insisted I join her family, and I man am I glad I did.
I had a small family, consisting of simply my mother and myself, Dub and her mother and visits with grandparents. But being surrounded by a lot of people all the time was a dream of mine and it came true at the Hayward’s.

While my family was small, Rachell’s family tree was huge and with many twisting branches. People were always showing up; aunts, uncles, cousins. You were never sure if they were ‘real’ family or adopted, like me…but it never mattered. Once you were family, you were family.

I had no idea who he was. I’d never heard a Little Feet song, had no idea the Dixie Chicks were named for one of their songs. To me he was just Daddy. Richie.  I loved going to his house, loved being around his family. Rachell was and is, so special to me. A true sister. Her sister Natalie, her brother Dan and of course, the baby in the family my Blizzy Bro Severn, became my dream siblings. They are all so close, and no matter how messed up things get, no matter how angry they get with one another…they have are one unit. I am jealous of that. More than jealous, I admire it.

When tragedy struck Sev, we all banded together. We huddled together  in the ICU. We were family. We cried together, raged together, smoked countless cigarettes together and begged every God we could think of to help Severn. Sev is a miracle. A walking talking miracle. You might have thought that at such a time the Hayward’s would have closed ranks. Kept to themselves, only immediate family. And they did close ranks and circle the wagons….with all of us. It was an amazing feeling to know that you are wanted, that MORE people means MORE love. That family sticks with you through good times and bad times, even when the bad times are horrible beyond imagination.  They’ll never know the gift they gave me, and in turn the gift they gave Max.

I haven’t seen Richie since we left L.A. I knew he was sick, I worried about it. He was waiting for a liver transplant. But I just didn’t think he could die. How is it possible that a man who lived such a life – and lived it hard – could go? Now? I’m heartbroken for Rachell, Dan, Natalie and Sev. I’m heartbroken for Sally {another adopted sibling like myself}. I am selfishly heartbroken for myself. Here in DC. Not in LA where I can run to Rachell’s house, always the meeting place, to both comfort and be comforted.
I find it hard to keep in touch. It hurts too much. I miss my friends. I miss Rachell. I hate that I am not there to hug her and tell her I love her. I do. I may not have had a big huge family by birth, but God sure created one for me with friends.

Richie Hayward died on August 12th. My father was born on August 12th.

The front page of the paper this morning mourned the loss of a rock star. But to me he was just Richie. Just Daddy.

 He would love this picture. Maybe The Boss will be as good as drummer as Richie. A lofty goal, he was the best.

11 thoughts on “My heart is broken.

  1. if you’ll be my dixie chicken
    i’ll be your tennessee lamb
    and we can walk together down in dixieland

    — “dixie chicken” by little feat

    thinking of you.


  2. Hugs and love to you and your family on the loss of an amazing person. It sounds like all the love he had to share will shine through is children and family, both immediate and extended.

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss, friendy. He sounds like he was such an amazing person. You were both lucky to know each other.


    The Boss looks like quite the pro on those drums…maybe he WILL follow in his footsteps!

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