For Sam

There are times when you know that something will become a snapshot in your memory. A moment of profound clarity that will forever be with you.

When you first hear the news that her son, that baby, that toddler, that gawky teenager, that wonderful, grounded young man, has been taken.

When you walk in the house and see her and feel that moment of relief because she’s there, in the circle of women. Those women, who have all been in many circles with her over the years.

You see how the women grieve. Always touching, tears flowing freely, hands held, hair stroked back. The one who presses a mug of soup into her hand. They sit close, so close the circle is closed.

The men grieve just as deeply. But they hover in the periphery, helpless. This is something they can’t fix. So they wait, and watch their women for the moment there is something they can do. A table to put up for all the food. A fire to be started outside. To step in and hold someone when needed. To talk in low voices out on the porch, to look up at the mountains so no one will see their tears.

Except for the middle child. Now the oldest child. He comes to the circle of women and is enfolded. The youngest, still the youngest, moves through the fringe, seeks solitude, and then they, too, come to the circle.

That moment when she’s talking, and then goes still, her gaze inward. What does she see? That moment when she first felt him move, first knew those cells were her child? His first smile? The last moment she spoke to him, not knowing it was the last?

That moment when they are talking about the need to go to the funeral home to see him. This woman, this strong earth mother, who has rescued strangers from the river, who knows what to expect. And she says, ‘the river was kind to him’.

The river took him for its own, but in the end was kind in its taking.

And now he goes where none of us can yet follow, into river and wind and mountains.

Last night the tiny town lit candles so he could find his way home.

We step forward into a life we never expected, finding a path we don’t want to follow. But we form circles. We hug. We touch. We sob so deep it becomes the moan of the wind. And we never forget.

We just grieve and grieve and grieve into our rivers.

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35 thoughts on “For Sam

  1. Heartbreaking!! 😢
    Stop the world, a piece is missing…. these German song lyrics always come to my mind now when there is a death close to me…
    Your words do not only paint the picture but the pure emotion that goes with it.
    What a loss to this world!

      • Thank you for bringing me there with your description Lisa. I have gone about my business since I heard but it keeps coming to mind. Things come along that remind me. And I wish to be there in the woods with all of you. And mostly Sabrina who I have loved since I met her. I want to walk in the woods and be wise and comforting. But I don’t know how….. from your words I know you are all caring for each other well. Thank you. I’ve finally been able to cry some. I love you sister.

      • Sabrina will need a walk in the woods with you later, when life moves back into some sense of the new normal, when everyone goes back to their daily lives, but the hole in hers is still there. That’s when she’s going to need more of the bond the two of you have with the woods. Love you, too.

  2. Touched by the COMPASSION and LOVE felt and passed along . The entire INDEX family is suffering , yet , together all the more.

  3. Thank you for bringing me there with your description Lisa. I have gone about my business since I heard but it keeps coming to mind. Things come along that remind me. And I wish to be there in the woods with all of you. And mostly Sabrina who I have loved since I met her. I want to walk in the woods and be wise and comforting. But I don’t know how….. from your words I know you are all caring for each other well. Thank you. I’ve finally been able to cry some. I love you sister.

  4. Thank you for the picture you painted here, Lisa. I am so happy to know that Sabrina and the family is embraced by her sisters, the community. And of course… Sam was as much a part of Index as Index was a part of him…. I’m so sad.

    • Thanks, Casey. All those years ago when you were teaching those little guys, we never expected to end up at this point in the road. I am amazed at how a small community comes together and takes on this grief. Where would we be without each other? Hug your kids for me.

  5. Sam was a great friend and wonderful person. I am so lucky to have met him when I was so little. He lived right across from my grandma and was always around to play with. Then he became an even better friend when we became classmates in Miss Casey’s 3rd grade class. I will miss you forever Sam but may you continue on the journey that was laid out before you. I also hope you become a guardian spirit of the river. See you later Sam.

    • I love the thought of Sam as the guardian spirit of the river. What a wonderful thing. Thank you for that. I remember your grandma and Casey’s third grade class.

  6. I didn’t know Sam though I had heard Sabrina speak so proudly of him. Thank you for these beautiful words of loss and love, and community. I am heartened that Sabrina and her family have women (and men) to encircle her and hold her heart during this incredibly difficult time.

  7. Lisa: Thank you for these words for Sam… Index will always be a part of me…. Forever…. Working there and seeing Sam grow up and then us being students together as EMT’s, him 18 and I in my 40’s… I will never forget him telling me how proud he was of me to continue with college in the Medical Field… I loved our small talks… Then watching his videos… I will so miss him… He was just such a great human!

    • I remember his stories about the two of you in EMT class. And I think even if you move away you never really leave Index. Wherever he is, he’s still proud of you.

  8. Lisa, I just read this, after being told about it by many people. Thank you for capturing this. I know that telling these stories helps-and what an incredible storyteller you are ❤️

  9. I continue to put my spirit with you all there and my heart grieves with you. Last night I thought about my “Trancendence” story that was written while camping on the north fork of the Snoqualmie river. I thought of the magic of the river and of y’all, my mountain and river folks, and of Sam. Blessings to all!

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