Yesterday, I woke up to a text whistle.
My eyes were still trying to focus, failing miserably to recall the details of the very weird dream I just had about going back to college…I was doing the groggy, obligatory reach-over for my glasses and my phone.
A very upset dear friend sent me a text. “…Did you hear about Sammy?…”
No. No no no no no no no. Not Sam. Samsamsamsamsamsam.
What is that thing? What is that thing our minds do at times like this when memories, clips, moments, feelings…they all attack our brains and our heads and our faces…flying at you like a colorful tornado…recollections of the past floating around. You close your eyes and you try to grab ahold of one to steady it for second, and it moves and then you open your eyes. Poof. There they go. You try really hard and they come back again and you struggle to remember them in a not-fuzzy way. For me: a laugh, a look, a rehearsal, a tipsy walk down the street, a striped shirt, a giggle-filled stage kiss, a hi and a hug, a deep talk in a dark bar…reminiscences all chaotic, all fighting, bumping into each other, these memories belligerent and clawing to be seen and competing to be remembered in my mind, just as they were in that memory Polaroid…those memory Polaroids…snapshots of those times, that small moment of many; many and not enough tiny moments that make up the time when I had Sam in my life.
He was just a friend. Not a past lover. Not someone I even truly knew anymore. But my heart aches just the same. Crying for his family, bawling for his loved ones. Then my inner dialogue goes Tasmanian Devil…we do this to ourselves….I’m yelling at me in my car yesterday morning, fists gripping my steering wheel, “Why in the hell didn’t I talk to him anymore?!”
Stop, breathe. Hug ourselves. It’s in this moment that we need to tell us that we are ok because life. simply. moves. It just keeps moving. That time I had with him was there and then life moves so fast…onto the next show, the new circle of pals, the new job, the new husband, the kids, the more kids, the more jobs, the more life. The journey takes us; the road winds and we drive farther on The Map of Life. But it is on that Map that you mark those special tack pins. You take them and stick them in all the locations that you really lived and loved, because you want to remember that time and that spot and those people. They meant so much to you that you saved them for later. You do that, so when you go back to The Map and look at all the beautiful places you have been, you remember what a great journey we are on so far…And Sam, my friends, was definitely a tack.
I love Facebook. I fucking hate Facebook. But most importantly, I NEED Facebook. Not just to promote my music career, but I need Facebook so I can look back on all my connected tacks. I go on my feed page so I can laugh at a ridiculous cow meme that was posted by an old theater professor, or admire a neighbor’s summer garden or feel happy for the old middle school friend who found great love, or I can even just send a virtual hug to a long-distant cousin who just needs a freaking hug. It’s not the same. It’s not in person, it’s virtual, but it’s the best I can do right now and I MEAN it. It’s me saying to everyone, “I am busy on my path, but I am still so glad that you were on one of mine.”
Sam was just this stunning human. Strikingly good-looking, yes, but that wasn’t even the best part. First and foremost, he was a deep and true listener for all. When you spoke to Sam, he concentrated on your words with his warm puddly eyes and his beautifully enormous heart. All of this greatness was surrounded by a unique and rare talent for performing. I have a funny Polaroid in my head that reminds me I had a little crush on Sam. I was playing Chris Hargensen and he was my Billy in a hilarious Chicago musical called “sCarrie the Musical”. We were the mean kids and made out a lot. Which wasn’t horrible. We had this rather rated-R musical number where I had to sing to him while I was performing….well…let’s just say, that the entire cast could barely get through it every time because we were all laughing so hard. Best of times.
I don’t know how we lost Sam. What I pray for is that he didn’t feel one ounce of pain. What I wish for is that his legacy will live on for all days, by the people who loved him. What I know is that all of it is a complete tragedy.
Pray for his family. Hug everyone you can. Love everyone you love. Go hang your Map.