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Smiles by Sam

My first best friend gained that title by default. It does not make anything different though, I love her just the same. Our mothers talked on orientation day prior to the start of our kindergarten year. From that point on we were know as best friends and were practically attached at the hip. I remember playing dress up with her and laughing hysterically when we would hide from her younger sister. Everyone has those found memories of their elementary school best friend.

Perhaps my favorite memory was the day she told me she was joining my Girl Scout troop. This was just another way we could be together and bond. Never would I guess that the one meeting I decided to skip would be our only meeting together. Never would I have thought that was our last hug, last smile, and last “hello Brittany” that I would ever receive. Never would I have missed that Friday of my second grade year. I still question myself of why I didn’t go to school, I regret it to this day. I think I was overly excited for my birthday that I was suppose to spend with my best friend.

I still remember very clearly the night I found out the tragic news of my best friend. It was September 29th, the day before my birthday. Being my bubbly self, I was running around the house going to different relatives seeking attention. The phone rang and being Miss Talkative I answered it hoping for an early birthday wish, only to be acknowledged with tears. My mood turned fast and the call was overtaken by my mother. As she burst out into tears I became troubled and had no idea what was going on. All I knew was it was my best friend’s aunt who had called. I become informed that my best friend would not be spending my birthday with me because she was never coming back, for God had taken her to heaven to be with my cousin Wyatt. Instantly, I began to bawl. I was seven in a few hours and I no longer had a best friend.

To this day I still have a hard time dealing with this issue, but it has helped me to empathize with others and be able to comfort people with the same experience. I have learned so much from my friend and from the loss. She taught me to be optimistic and stay strong through her constant visits to the hospital and heart monitors that never seemed to bother her for she was always smiling. My life is now dedicated to making a difference in others’ lives due to that seven year old girl who tried in anyway to help the homeless she saw on the street or abused animals or anyone else she felt needed help. This was a little girl who never judged and I try my hardest to follow her example. She came into this world blue, literally, due to little oxygen in her system; she made an impact on the world, in my eyes even with health difficulties; and she left peacefully doing what she loved, playing soccer.

I miss my friend dearly, but I know she is in a better place. It would be entirely too selfish of me to wish she was still her though because that would mean keeping her in pain and I would never want to instill that upon a person especially one as precious as she is to me. I still call her my best friend and no one can ever take that away from her or me. She holds a special place in my heart and I continue to do things in her memory. I have taken it upon myself to stay in close contact with her family as well as treat her sisters as my own. They each have impacted my life optimistically and I thank God for letting me meet such a wonderful group of people.

There is a bit or irony to this story though. She would be seen drawing angels quite often while in elementary school. This is quite odd for kindergartners, first and second graders, but she did it anyway. Many say she knew her life would be short and that is why she drew these angels to let her family know she would watch over them. I believe this and I consider her my guardian angel.

Her name is Samantha, but I call her Sam. In her memory her family began the non-profit organization known as Smiles by Sam. We go out in the community and try to touch as many lives as possible. So far some events we have done included making comfort bags for Katrina victims, sack lunches for the homeless, raising money for the American Heart Association, making a meal for families at the Ronald McDonald house, having a carnival for an orphanage, and much more. Her death affected my life profoundly, but I have learned to help others to deal with the pain. I love Samantha and I always will.

R.I.P. Samantha Christine DeGroat March 20, 1994- September 29, 2001
“Forever in our minds and hearts, you’ll always be more than a memory.”





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