I wrote this last Wednesday and sent it to a few mutual friends.
My friend Sam died Thursday. We’d both gone to little Vicksburg High and big Michigan, he a year ahead of me, but we didn’t interact much beyond teams and organizations, until a few years back when we connected on Facebook. We enjoyed each others’ posts enough to arrange a lunch in Santa Fe – Sam lived in nearby Los Alamos working at the National Lab – as Kathy and I passed through to see her brother Bob 3 Decembers ago en route to my sabbatical in San Diego. We later saw Sam and his wife June at their nearby home then and twice again more: next spring at their new retirement home in the Rockies and finally in Santa Fe again last August. Of course we kept up electronically, and from June’s text 2 weeks ago I learned Sam had been sick since September and was in ICU. Monday June texted his doctors said there was no more they could do and she was putting him in hospice. He died 3 days later at 5:30 in the morning, mountain time. In pulling some pictures off Facebook to add to something I would distribute to mutual friends, I came across a 3 day old post from his best friend Gary, who spelled out that Sam had an auto-immune disease that had affected several of his organs, leaving him too sick to receive the liver transplant he needed. So the bastard had one of my diseases! And a rare one at that, based on my guess at his diagnosis. Sam was always unique. I had so looked forward to being his friend in these leisure years. We complemented each other. He was the smart, funny, collegial guy I’d always hoped to become, and I was the egghead classmate who’d made it in academia, a little, at our old alma mater. I pray for his wife June, a strong funny woman in her own right, who was childless by Sam and now won’t get to dote on him in his old age like Kathy does with me. There’s a big crowd out there shocked by Sam’s passing and missing him terribly, and I’m sure right there with them. If you begin to notice my posts and writings are a little goofier and more mundane, that’s Sam whispering in my ear to lay off the serious stuff and write what people might actually care about and find entertaining. Thanks Sam. It was too damn short but I’ll never forget you.