Sonny Ricks

“What’s so new about Mexico”?

That is the question Sonny posed to me while driving down Washington Blvd.  Though I was no geography expert, at 16 I knew the states pretty well.  I was laughing, assuming he was making a joke.  When I turned to look at him he was staring at me seriously.  “Are you being serious?”  I said laughing.  “Yes!  What the hell is so new about Mexico?”  I couldn’t breath I was laughing so hard.  “Sonny, it’s a state!”  I replied.  “No it’s not.”  Sonny was two years my senior and definitely a smart guy.  Why this failed to make sense to him still has me laughing today.  He didn’t believe that New Mexico was a state until I went home (to my parents house) and looked it up in the set of encyclopedias my parents owned.  Even then he thought it was some conspiracy against him.

Or the time he came home from the police academy and was complaining of his calf hurting.  We looked and he had two small red marks on his calf.  Sonny looked at me with all sincerity and said, “I think a snake bit me.”  I started to roll around on the carpet in laughter and said, “You didn’t get bit by a snake.”  Sonny’s retorted, “You DON’T KNOW, you’ve never been bitten by a snake!!”  I was in tears from laughter and said, “…Neither have you!”

Sonny always had the ability to make me laugh.  His sense of humor was off the wall and his wit was quick.  We spent so many hours just driving around and talking about what we were going to be when we grew up.  We’d listen to police scanners, knowing that this would help us learn the 10 codes, and just dream of the day we’d become cops.  For me it was a way to show every teacher that said I couldn’t be a cop I could, but for Sonny it was a way to help those less fortunate.

When Sonny was finally hired on as Salt Lake City Police it was one of his most proud moments.  Unfortunately it would be our marriages downfall.

I met him when I was 13, married when I was 21 and divorced when I was 22.  Those 9 years were pivotal in shaping who am I today.  We both taught each other so much about life and though he couldn’t take the strain of living anymore, I’ll always remember him as the “Dr. Pepper” guy.  It wasn’t until our divorce that Sonny turned to alcohol to medicate his emotional traumas.

In our numerous conversations in the last few years I would encourage him to get help.  Hell, I even wrote to the TV show Intervention hoping they could give him the help the rest of us couldn’t.  But in true Sonny fashion he refused help and bull headedly claimed he was doing fine.  But those of us that really knew him where aware this was a lie.  Knowing the pains he suffered as a child, the pain of our divorce, the suicide of his wife clearly led me to believe that Sonny, yet again, was suffering.

I’d take his calls at 2am and listen to his woes.  I’d listen to him speak about work, the meaning of life, the downfall of people in general.  In all of this I’d know, and tell Sonny, that he was hurting.  On numerous occasions I told him that he was acting tough when he just wanted to be weak.  Most times he’d mock me for saying such things, but I stood strong in my opinion and usually, he’d concede that he was lost.

He’d ask me over and over why I loved life.  I’d try to explain that it’s the people, groups we involve ourselves in and passion for anything that keeps people going.  I tried explaining that his love of animals could be a passion.  I told him to volunteer to anything he liked, but he just didn’t seem ready to involve himself in anything.

We spoke frankly about Aimee (his wife who committed suicide) and on most occasions he’d try to down play this traumatic event.  Well downplay isn’t the word, he’d try to act as though he were ok with it.  We all knew better.


On Dec. 16th I got a text from a friend that grew up with us asking if I’d heard about Sonny.  Immediately I knew.  I knew that the burden of living was just too much for Sonny and that he had taken his own life.  When it was confirmed that he was dead I didn’t even need to ask how, I knew.  I’d known for years that Sonny wasn’t meant to remain here with all the trauma he’d endured in his short life.  But even knowing this, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d done everything I could for him.  Could I have called more often?  Could I have had him over at the house more?  Could I have text him each day to make sure he was ok?

And then reality hit me.  It wouldn’t have mattered.  None of those things would have helped Sonny.  Those things would have helped me cope better.  Only Sonny could help Sonny and he was tired of trying.  And truly, who am I to judge another person and their decisions?  Who am I to say this was the wrong decision for him?  Selfishly I wish he would have chosen some other way to cope, but that’s not for me to decide right?  Selfishly I want to get more phone calls from Sonny (even the annoying early morning ones).  Selfishly I wish I could have had the perfect words to change Sonny’s life.  But none of us have this power.

So with tears in my eyes I will say goodbye to you.  I still have every single letter we ever exchanged, and when I won’t become a slobbering mess, I’ll go through them and think of you when you were happy.  I have a lock of your hair, and I’ll touch it remembering how safe you used to feel.  I still have a motorcycle key from the accident, and I’ll remember how endearing and protecting you were when tragedy struck.  I still have every picture from every high school dance and I’ll protect and preserve them for the remainder of my days.  But most of all, I have 9 years of incredible memories from when we were kids to becoming adults.  I had ALL my firsts with you.  First road trip, first dinners out, first date, first hand holding, and my first sexual experiences.  You’re an amazing man Sonny and my life would never have been the same without you.  Thank you for loving me.  I consider myself lucky that I had the chance to love you back!



Filed under Bein a kid, Family Time, My past, My thoughts, Relationships, Thinking of Friends

5 responses to “Sonny Ricks

  1. Pat

    Oh Marcey…With tears in my eyes I read and reread this beautiful summery and tribute to Sonny..I never knew him, but your words gave me an awsome visual of a very special human being, who was such an important part of your life..Wow is all I can say to your writings..You have such a GIFT for words..Thank you for sharing your inner feelings..May you have peace in your heart and soul from this experience…Isn’t is awsome, when special people come into our lives, and touch the core of our soul, and leave such a beautiful mark on our lives…May he rest in peace,….

  2. nancy

    Tears are streaming down my face as I write this. You summed things up so well. I envied you both wishing I could have had a childhood sweetheart like you two had. I remember how sweet it was that you would do something special together on the day you met…every month! He would pack up a lot of romantic and Yummy things in my Mom’s picnic basket and you would go to the park to spend time to show your love to one another. He never ever could forget you. The love you shared was immeasurable. He kept everything that you gave to him and every picture you had together. I told him i was going to get rid of all the past memories, pictures, cards, etc. from boyfriends that never worked out…he adamantly said, “I will NEVER do that!!! Referring to all of you and his special times together. He said, “that was a part of my life and happiness that I always want to remember.” He was so passionate about keeping everything. He dated very few girls, I was in disbelief when he told me hiw many girls he dated…but he would always say Nancy, I’m a “romantic” and he sure was. Thank you for talkin to him throughout the last several years. I remember how excited he was when i dropped him off at your bbq to visit with you and your family recently. He told how he could call you anytime and talk to him even when he did call you at ridiculously late/early unpredictable times! He always told me how much better you made him feel with your optimistic and positive outlook on life. I thank you for that Marcy. I felt so good knowing you were there for him during the good times and the bad the entire time you knew each other. That is very rare but so are you and him. I miss him so much and would give 20 years if my life to have him back…especially right now. He was always by my side and vice versa. I’m having my surgery (mastectomy and reconstruction) next week. I wish he could hold my hand during this and have him hug me telling me, “Nancy, everything’s gonna be alright.” Even if he didn’t believe it!!! LOL He would still give me hope by finding ways to joke around with me to make light of it. I can just picture him saying, “well, at least you get free implants!” I miss him so much. My life will never be the same without him. I love when you write about The funny things and adventures you did together. It warms my heart and makes me feel so much better and reminds me of all the love you gave him and helped him try and heal his childhood wounds. Much love, Nancy

  3. ashley

    I lost my cousin to suicide, and towards the end he had a lot of issues with drinking. You are so right. They can only help themselves. No matter how much we would have helped them, no matter how much we would have showed we loved and cared for them…its all about how much they want the help. Love to you. I came across this from another website. Your blog made me tear up. Thinking of you, Sonny and Aimee.

  4. Marcy

    Thank you for your kinds thoughts! Mine are with your family as well. Suicide makes everyone else feel so helpless, but I’m glad that you recognize that we have no power of their choices. I’m sorry for your loss but proud of your emotinally mature response 🙂

  5. 12-15-12
    Gary Johnson
    I want to thank you for your kind words about my 1st cousin Sonny. I had met him only a few times. He had interest in our common overseas travels and our cousins in Germany and Switzerland. Unfortunately it never went past talking.
    He was a good guy like his brother Randy that I got to know. Unfortunately we are all separated by time and distance. Now it is eternal distance.

    Would you be willing to share any of the photos of Sonny with me? I have been doing family genealogy since 1972. I am a bit older than you. My mother was Sonny’s oldest maternal aunt. She passed away shortly after Sonny on 1-22-2012. My mother was dying of cancer when she heard of Sonny’s passing. She was so sad that someone so young was gone and she was allowed to live 86 years. His other aunt Ruth Klym (Scotland) and uncle Heinz (Germany) are also gone. My mother regretted in her last year not making the effort to reunite with her sisters, nieces and nephews more than she was able to in her last year.

    Gary Johnson

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