I went to Samantha’s funeral today, which is now yesterday by time you read this. I wasn’t sure I was going to go because never in my 41 years have I been inclined to go to a funeral. Not my grandmother’s, not my grandfather’s, not my father’s, not my first love’s… I’ve always said funerals aren’t my thing. I want to remember the person the way they were when they were alive, not the way they are after they’ve passed, but I realized today that funerals are more for those left behind than the one who left.
Today was a sobering and surreal experience. Samantha was one of a kind. There are lots of people walking this earth, but very few that will ever compare to the person that she was. Loving is an understatement. As is… a beautiful soul, caring, unselfish, hysterically funny, daring, honest (brutally), amazing, and a great friend. I could go on and on, but like her uncle said, or maybe it was her brother, if you knew her, there is nothing I can say that you don’t already know.
If you didn’t know her, you should aspire to be the kind of person she was. The kind of person who would call you to make sure you were ok when she hadn’t heard from you in a few days, the kind of person who would go out of her way to make sure you had the time of your life, the kind of person who paid so much attention to detail that if anyone ever tried to duplicate your system they would fail horribly. The kind of person who would make jokes about your hippie scent and in the same breath tell you she bought you some patchouli soap.
As we, her friends and family, gathered today, it was a piece of time that I will forever be thankful that I did not miss. There is a small group of us, that I mentioned before, who would not be friends if it weren’t for Samantha. Today, we cried with each other for the first time. Every other time we had been together it had been for laughter and, if there were tears, it was from laughing too hard. Today we held each other. We cried on each other’s shoulders. We held each other up, literally. We felt every emotion that every other person around us was feeling. We felt grief. We felt saddened. We had to force ourselves to inhale because if we didn’t, we may have never breathed again. And when one of us got weak, the others stepped up to be the strong ones. And it was beautiful.
The most beautiful part of it all was watching the ones who loved her the most, her husband, her daughter, her brother, her aunt, her uncle…. they stood solid and strong and let the rest of us crumble. I know they were crumbling too on the inside, but in the moments that we were weak, they were the strong. They suffered loss too, but they let us have our moments and acknowledged that, we too, had suffered a great loss. Probably the most unselfish thing I had ever witnessed, but it doesn’t come as a shock or a surprise because just as they loved Samantha the most, those were the people she loved the most, too, and it only makes sense that they would all be as caring and giving and unselfish as she had always been.
The crazy thing is, I bet Samantha had no idea the impact she had on all of us. I bet she had no idea that she formulated friendships that will last forever among people who would have otherwise possibly never even said hello in passing. If I learned nothing from today, I learned the kind of person I will be from now on.
I will be the kind of person who makes every single person in my life feel like the most important one. I will be the kind of person who does exactly what she says she is going to do. I will be the kind of person who calls to check on her friends when too much time has passed. I will be the kind of person who loves others so much that when I leave this earth I will leave it overflowing with so much love in others that it has no choice but to seep out through their eyes and through the cracks in their hearts that my absence has left. I don’t know how the days will be from now on without her, empty, I imagine, for a long while, but I do know that I, like many, have mountains of memories to keep our hearts refilled with her love when we need it.
Below are some photos from some of our times together. These are mostly pictures that I had in my phone or from Facebook. Samantha loved taking pictures, but wouldn’t post any of herself unless it was just right. Her face had to tell the whole story, not like my pictures that are pretty much always of me cheesing for no good reason. So if she is not in the pictures below, she was the one pushing the button behind the camera. If you are in these pictures, feel free to save them or copy them or just come back whenever you want to take a gander.
I love you all.