in august of 2003 i started working at a bbq restaurant called rudy's. after working there for about a year, i became friends with this guy named kelly who i worked with. we were fast friends once we actually got to know each other and i was thrown right into his HUGE group of friends (mostly all girls). i don't remember my first impressions of all of them but i do remember thinking that sam was one of the nicest, most beautiful people i had ever met. from day one sam and i were "me too" friends. you know, the friend that says something and your response is always, "ME TOO!" and vice versa. we both preferred miracle whip to mayonnaise, we both loved cheese (but really, who doesn't?), we both hated vegetables, we both had big boobs and long, beautiful hair. i could go on but i think you get the idea.
for a couple of years our interactions were limited to social gatherings with kelly. in may of 2006, a group of us took a roadtrip to new orleans to see gomez and after we got back from the trip, i decided i didn't need kelly around to be friends with these people. kelly did a lot of traveling that summer and i spent a lot of time with sam and robin. my strongest memories from all the times i spent with sam are memories of extreme happiness, constant laughter and smiles. sam had a smile that could shoo away even the worst possible mood. she was a free spirit, always down for anything (unless she was pmsing, in which case, watch out).
the 5 of us in new orleans in may 2006
in january 2008, after being employed on and off for a while, sam decided to move to colorado to live with her mom for a while to save up some money and get a fresh start. at this point kelly had already moved away and sam leaving austin really solidified that it was the end of an era for all of us. i think her time in colorado didn't go quite as she expected so she moved back to texas, but not to austin. she moved back to san angelo, where she grew up, to help out at a family restaurant. when living in austin, sam always struggled with the dating scene (like most of the rest of us) and i think, though she never let on much, that she was discouraged and afraid she'd never fall in love. well, shortly after moving back to san angelo she met and fell in love with her best friend wade. though i only saw her a couple of times after she moved back to texas, i thought of her often. she had tentatively planned to come to austin for acl festival in october but she went to visit her "mama" instead. that's what she always called her mom and it was adorable.
sam and me on her birthday in october 2008
on december 7th i didn't have to be at work until the afternoon so i was sleeping in. my phone rang shortly after 10:00 and i barely woke up to see that it was my friend sarah calling. i remember thinking it was weird that sarah was calling me because we never really talk on the phone. if we have something to say to each other, we either email or use google chat. even still, i figured it wasn't anything important and that i would call her later. then my phone notified me that there was a voicemail and i knew that something was wrong. sarah's message said that she had something really important to tell me and i called her back immediately. she barely managed to spit out the words, "sam died" before i had to hang up the phone. i got up out of my bed, intending to walk into the bathroom or something, i don't really know, and i collapsed onto the floor sobbing and wailing. i have never in my life felt that type of emotion before. and for the next few weeks i cried sporadically with less and less frequency as the days went by. i still get choked up every now and then and i'm crying as i write this but i think eventually it will get easier.
many people measure a person's worth on their level of success, specifically in a chosen career field. if that's how you measure success, then sam (and definitely myself) would probably seem pretty worthless. however, i measure a person's worth on their character, personality, and how many lives they've touched. and going by that measurement sam is probably the most valuable person i will ever know.
me and sam on her birthday in october 2007