Thursday, March 17, 2016

only a memory

Six years ago, my friend Sam took his own life.

My wife and I were out. After coming home late, I ran upstairs to my computer to check my email before climbing into bed. I scrolled through several solicitations and offers from companies that I had made a single purchase and now would not free me from their marketing lists. I saw a notification of a comment on my blog (A nasty one, no doubt, from someone who I had offended. I get those a lot.) And then I saw one from a email address that I did not recognize. It was from my friend Sam's sister informing me that Sam had passed away the day before.

Sam was one of my closest friends from the time we met in high school. Over the years, Sam had moved around a lot — California, Arizona, Florida. Despite large gaps in the time between contact, he always let me know where he was and what he was doing. I had sent him a text message and a picture of my son and me as we shoveled a couple of feet of snow off of our driveway in February 2010. Sam, who living in West Palm Beach at the time, replied that it was time for me to move to the Sunshine State. I laughed as I read it out loud to my son. That was three weeks — almost to the day — before I received that email from Sam's sister.

Sam was cremated in Florida and a memorial service was held for friends and relatives still residing in the Philadelphia area. I reconnected with a bunch of friends that I had not seen since I attended high school over thirty years earlier. Although were all saddened by the occasion, we still managed to joyfully reminisce about the past and catch up on our lives since. A few of us even went out for dinner after the service for more camaraderie — both happy and sad. Afterwards, we all made plans and promises not to let so much time pass between us. We all exchanged contact information — cell phone numbers, email addresses, Linked In and Facebook locations. With so many more outlets of "getting in touch," we couldn't possibly stray from each other now.

When I got home I emailed a few people that I had seen at the service. I also did a quick "Google" search of some other friends that I did not see, but thought about. Within the next few months, I had lunch with two close high school friends and one from elementary school. My wife and I went to a friend's house where we spent a fun-filled evening with several classmates and their spouses  — some we had known, some we met for the first time. We invited those same couples to our annual "Night before Thanksgiving" gathering, although only one couple could make it. I was invited to the birthday party of a friend who was an usher at my wedding. 

And then, contact stopped.

Everyone, I suppose, went on with their lives — myself included. Business as usual. We fell back into our routines, our jobs, our daily responsibilities. I know that our lives have become more complicated, more demanding, more tumultuous, more everything since the carefree days of high school. Back then, we didn't have to worry about our children or our parents or if the mortgage would get paid on time. Our biggest concern was a date for Saturday or passing a history test.  Maybe youth fleeting away was more than Sam could take.

Although we are all busy with our lives, I hope they think about Sam as often as I do.

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