A few weeks ago, the world lost someone very special. He was known by many, I knew him as a friend, a peer, and sometimes, my wake-up call, at Westminster. It is not always easy to deal with the loss of a loved one. Sometimes it is easier to grieve with others who feel the same, other times it is easier to grieve independently, or maybe a combination of the both. We all remembered Sam in our own ways, but came together to celebrate his life.
A couple days after his passing, a large group of Sam’s friends, coworkers and peers gathered in our campus commons to celebrate his life with a candlelight vigil. I have never been so touched and heartbroken in my life.
For those of you who are not aware of who Sam was, he had a gift. He was everyone’s friend, and your day was instantly a good day once you had a conversation with him. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. If he met you once, you became his friend, and he would remember your name. No matter what was happening in his life, everything in your life was much more important to him, and he wanted to hear about everything. He made people feel special and loved.
Throughout the candlelight vigil and the service in his hometown, many people were telling stories of how they met him, even if it was just once. They would mention how it was so awesome that he would acknowledge them across campus, or how they felt so special talking to him, or how their problems didn’t seem much like problems after telling Sam about them. He had what I would call a gift, and what I later found out was perhaps a goal in his life.
I wondered how Sam would react if he were standing in that crowd with us. I know for a fact he would have been walking around hugging and giving out fist bumps to absolutely everyone, but how could of our words affected him? He knew that he was surrounded by people who loved him, and was told this often by his close friends and family.
What struck me so hard during the vigil was the fact that we had to celebrate how amazing this person was after he died. Why can’t we gather and point out how special a person is before they pass? How many people’s lives could we change if we complimented them, if they became aware of their potential?
I also wonder how much the world could change if we all carried a bit of Sam’s personality with us. If we saw the good in everyone, and loved them for whom they are. I am challenging myself, and I challenge you to do the same, to carry a bit of Sam with me. I want to “spread the love.” Be approachable and also approach others with a friendly face. I want everyone that I know to know that they are loved every day of their life.
Here’s the putting other’s first.
Here’s to Sam.