November 30, 2011
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I’m a person that believes that everything happens for a reason. I’m not super religious, but I believe in an overseer that is in charge of everything that happens here on Earth. This person can make anything happen, and even if it does not seem fair for him to do, for one reason or another, it had to be done. I have never really thought about this topic to an extent. At least, not before one morning in late October of 2011.

I was a junior in high school, still adjusting to the ebb and flow of the year, complete with the pressures and advantages it has to offer. I was never athletic. But, coming from a family of incredibly successful athletes in their college and high school days, I had to find something that I could excel at as good as they did at athletics. I have been participating in community theater and school productions since age 5, and I always loved it. I seemed to have a knack for the dramatic arts. So many kids set the goal of being an actor when they grow up, yet I was one of the few who kept that vision all through my years. It’s the one thing I was decent at, and I was willing to carry that out into the real world with me in any way possible. So, naturally, I joined my high school’s very professional drama club, and vowed to take part in each year’s five productions if possible. It was there that I met Sam.

Samantha, called Sam by her friends, was a junior in high school when I was a freshman. We met during our spring production of Fiddler on the Roof. We were not necessarily close during this production process. We didn’t even speak for the first time until the cast party after the curtain closed. We first started becoming friends a few weeks later when we found each other in a room filled with mostly strangers, at least to me, at a community theater audition for a show the next town over. We both made the show, and we bonded in the group of kids from Waterford High. It was during this process I learned of her devotion to the church, her support of the TOMS shoes initiative, and her hobbies: making jewelry from silverware, scoping eBay from her iPhone for a vintage one-touch Polaroid camera, and attending renaissance fairs. We closed out the production in August and one week later, we were auditioning for our high school’s first production of the 2010 to 2011 season; a dramatic play about the Vietnam War, entitled A Piece of My Heart. She landed the role of the guitar-playing, singing entertainer of the troops, while I got the role of “various male characters,” shared with three other boys from the school. We were a few weeks along in the process when I first heard her singing voice. It was pure majesty. It was both sweet and angelic, and pure and confident. I had no idea she could sing like that. Along with her guitar strums, her scenes were entrancing.
We grew closer still throughout this show and the next, a re-creation of an old-school cabaret with desserts and show tunes. We would escape from the hustle and bustle when we weren’t on stage and rehearse our songs together; giving each other feedback and helping each other understand the context line for line. I would confidently say it was then when we became extremely close friends. We weren’t in the next show together, yet we were still friends. She would give me rides home every day in her small, silver Jetta when my brother, just one year my senior, was busy after school. She did not live close to me, but she was always there with her keys and a dimpled smile. I knew I could rely on her, for even more than just her car services.
We closed out her senior year and my sophomore year with The Pajama Game, us both landing small speaking roles. We both did not have major stage time, which allowed us to bond more in the dressing rooms and in the wings. We made a deal that before I walked onstage with a root beer, portrayed on stage as actual beer, I would let her have first dibs. I do not care for root beer, so I was glad to oblige. We were both inducted into the International Thespian Society that month. She graduated, and prepared herself for her first year at UCONN Avery Point that fall. We didn’t see each other much that summer, but we made sure to stay in contact with what was going on in our lives. I recently re-read our Facebook chats from that summer. Numerous times, we told each other that we loved each other and how happy we were that we had each other. I’m so glad we told each other that.
After not making the first production of the 2011 to 2012 drama season, I signed up for an usher position to seat people and take tickets during the performances. Just a few days before the performances, I met up with Sam at a local diner for breakfast. She had a petite egg sandwich, while I ordered pancakes so monstrous that I barely made a dent before I was full. I made Sam quite frustrated when I left the pancake remnants in her car and refused to take them back. She would send me texts and Facebook messages about it, too. For the fall production a few days later, Sam was signed up as the house manager with another college freshman going to school close by. She was the one who oversaw all the happenings with the six or seven people on house crew. Technically, she was my boss. I was only scheduled for the Thursday and Friday performances, with someone else taking my position for the Saturday performance. Sam was trying to put up her best “tough-like boss” front. It was hard to take her seriously, because I knew who she really was: a sweet, friendly, generous, quiet, insecure girl. Even though she was my boss, I still had fun with her, poking fun at the hole in the back of her blouse, reminding her that she was late for call one day, and jokingly saying that she was a really strict boss. I was in Boston at my cousin’s college soccer game when the other house manager, Kevin, called me. They were shorthanded for the Saturday show and they needed an extra usher. I agreed, and then was driven home to change and go to the show. I saw Sam again, and she put up her boss front again. I laughed.
Less than a week later she was dead. After not making the second show of the season, the cabaret, I decided to take a “mental health” day from school to clear my head. My mom instructed me, before she went to work, to not use the computer so to not complicate why I was not in school by Facebook chatting someone. I obeyed, and took my mental health day. I watched television, caught upon my sleep, and requested to my mom to talk to the drama director about why I was not making shows. She agreed and she went directly after work. I watched as some of the kids in my class walked up the road by my house from the bus stop. I got a call from my mom telling me that she will be back around 3:15, and if she is not home by then to get my brother from the bus stop. I was home alone when, at around three o’clock, my sister called me. She was a sophomore in college at Saint Michael’s University in Winooski, Vermont. She had a serious tone in her voice. I wondered what the matter was. She said that she had something to tell me. She said that she wasn’t sure if she should be the one to tell me this, and to prepare myself because it was bad.
My sister Alexa was walking out of a class at school when her friend Nina called her with some disturbing news. Nina and Alexa had graduated together in 2010. Nina asked if she knew someone named Sam, a girl who graduated the year after she did. Alexa said that she didn’t know her personally, but she knew that Sam was one of my best friends. Nina informed her that earlier in the day, Sam was killed in a one-car accident on Route 11. Alexa hung up on her best friend and called me. She gave me the news as gentle as she could from three hundred miles away. She didn’t want me to find out any other way than from the mouth of a loved one. She said to make sure it was the right person by checking Facebook. If it was, I was instructed to call her back. With my heart pounding out of my chest and my breath growing quicker and louder per millisecond, I raced across the kitchen to the computer. Our computer has gone slow before, but no time was it slower than that afternoon. I pulled up the Facebook home page and scrolled down until I saw the status I was dreading to see: “R.I.P. Sam. You will be greatly missed by me.” All I could say was “Oh my god.” I began to sob, only coming up for breath to say “Oh my god.” All I wanted was someone to hug. I called my mom what felt like three hundred times before she answered. I told her what had happened. She said she knew; that she and Shane, the drama director, had found out together while in his office. She raced home to be with me. She was crying when she came in, and I was crying for the rest of the day. When my little brother came home, he was explained the news. He asked my mom, “Mommy, is Weston’s heart broken? Where can he go to get it fixed?”
I have experienced death before in my life. When I was seven, my grandfather passed away after a long battle with illness. When I was nine, a classmate of mine with special needs had passed away. Sam’s death was by far the hardest thing I ever had to endure. I loved my grandfather and my fellow classmate, but Sam’s was the most painful to my heart. My grandfather was in the hospital for as long as I could remember before he died so his death was not completely out-of-the-blue, and my classmate was not really as close to me, given her inability to walk or talk. I cried both times, and I loved both of them deeply. However, Sam’s passing was something different. We had been through so much together in the short time we knew each other. I knew it was going to be hard to move on. Everybody from the drama club met up at a student’s house, and we all grieved our loss together as a family.
Sam was the poster child for what a teenage girl could do for the world. And all of the events that led up to the world’s loss of this poster child happened for a reason. I was called up to work at the show on Saturday so I could see her one last time. I took a mental health day from school on the day she passed because so many of my friends found out of her death from their smartphones at lunch. My mom told me not to use the computer that day so I would not have learned the news through the various posts on the social networking sites. My mom was with the drama director and the two of them found out together in his office, so she could be better prepared for me crying on my knees when she arrived home. I did not get a role in the cabaret because two weeks later, when I saw the show, I could not control my emotions during the tributes to her during the performance. I wouldn’t have been able to hold it together for any of the show if I was a part of it.
It was not for a few weeks after the funeral, wake, candlelight vigil, and cabaret were over that I realized all of the proceedings happened to help me. If I had gone to school, went online, or were with my mom, it would not have helped me as well for the worst news I had heard in a long time. I knew that God was watching out for me. He helped me get ready for my darkest hours. I know Sam is with Him now, watching over everything we do. I hope she understands how much I love and miss her. But, I cannot help knowing that she does.

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