Circle of Sam

He couldn’t have choreographed it better, leaving on a wintry Vermont night under the full moon. Lee didn’t know that Sam had told me way back that he wanted to leave listening to Mahler – she mentioned to me that she’d taken some CDs over to the hospital and that was one of them. It all just came together. I hadn’t remembered this until Lee said how much Sam loved Mahler – it sparked that memory from Sam’s first year in the nursing home, when we spent so much time talking about death.
I spent several hours with Lee at Eden Park. She’s been taking care of business: paperwork, at the funeral home, serving as the communication node for everyone, and sorting through his stuff. One of the nurses, Sue, came in. She was on vacation last week. It was hard on the staff here that Sam went over to the hospital because they weren’t able to say goodbye. It was the right decision under the circumstances, but hard all the way around. Dani and Paul came in and we toasted Sam, remembered many special moments. We listened to Marvin Gaye. Danced. Laughed. Just like Sam would want us to. Paul said, “He didn’t want nobody to feel bad for him!” Lee described Sam’s parties – how “he always wanted all of his friends to be friends with each other: the circle of Sam.”
There are so many memories in this room, with Sam’s belongings. I remember painting his wheelchair – we made it groovy. ­čÖé That first year I visited every Wed night after hours (!), and we’d talk and hang and talk and laugh. Sometimes we’d watch movies – his favorite of all time, The Princess Bride. We once gave him Nosey Parker. Some ofher movies we enjoyed together: Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Fight Club… and then the music. Josh Groban, Johnny Adams, Annie Lennox, Gregorian chant, opera, blues, on-and-on…so much happiness here.
Lee hasn’t taken the paintings down yet. It’s odd to walk in here and feel Sam and know he’s gone. He sure claimed this room! His energy’s still in it, in his things and the memories they spark. In us.

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