I can't believe that in little over 6 months time, it will be 20 years since River passed away. The memories of that day are still as clear in my head now, as they were then - and it still hurts just as much.
I was 17 years old, and had been a fan of River's for 6/7 years, having first discovered him while watching 'Explorers' at the age of 10 or 11. I was still living at home with my father and step-mother at the time, and that morning began just the same as all the others - I got up, went downstairs, had coffee, etc..... UNTIL - my father told me what he had heard on the news. He told me that River Phoenix had died..... As soon as I heard those words, my blood ran cold, and I remember running into the living room and switching on the TV..... There it was, it was true! I have to admit that I didn't cry at first - in fact, not for quite a while - I was too numb. All I could think was, How could this have happened? - I was devastated.
In the years that followed, I did the same as so many others have done - constantly watching his movies, collecting stuff, listening to his music - anything to stay connected with him in some way.
I also began looking at the websites that started popping up over the years - something that would eventually lead to me creating Angel-River: Celebrating River Phoenix (as angel-river.net was formerly known) in 2006. The majority of sites were fantastic, and I visited them regularly. However, there were a few that, quite frankly, annoyed me. It was one, in particular, which made me think, "Hang on, why don't I do my own?"..... and I did.
I'm now nearing 37 years old, and while I suppose, getting older changes the way you do things - I still watch River's movies regularly, (my favourite being 'The Thing Called Love') I still listen to his music and I still collect bits and pieces (the last being a 'Stand By Me' tee-shirt from EBay only a few months ago) - Although, the majority of collecting I do these days is information or pictures for the site.
There is one other thing I still do - I still think of him regularly, and think what a tragedy it is, that he was taken away way too early..... I think of all the movies he could have done, (some that would have been BETTER had he been in them) all the charity work he would have continued to do, all the songs he could have written, and so on, and so on.
It pisses me off (excuse my french) that he isn't here any more - there are murders and child abusers who are still alive - it makes no sense to me, why it always seems to be the good ones who are taken away..... and he was one of them - a DAMN good one. The only thing that gives me comfort is knowing that he is in a better place - a place where he can't be hurt any more.
To quote the above poem - "My body may have gone, but my soul will always live on"..... It will, forever - and so will his memory. River did not want to be forgotten, and he won't - as long as I, and all of you who are reading this, keep him in our hearts.
Webby (36, UK)
7 April 2013