Sam died Friday night. As I write this, it's still not 24 hours ago.
I took the news very hard. My daughter called me this morning, sobbing terribly in the phone.
“What is it sweetie? Are you alright? What's the matter?” My heart racing.
Sam was my daughter's first boyfriend.
“Oh, sweetheart, no!” All day I have felt like I had to vomit.
Sam was 21, two years younger than my daughter. Their love affair had ended by the late tenth or early eleventh grade, but they had renewed a warm friendship over the past months.
Sam's girlfriend of the last few years was Arleen. It was real. My daughter was also her friend. Arleen was killed in a bicycle accident four months ago – she was struck by a car, just before she was to graduate with her nursing degree.
Back in the day I had given Sam a high paying gig, when I was a sucessful caterer. I paid him $100 plus tips for a six hour stint. I did the same thing for a couple of other boys in my daughter's circle. Eventually, they all became line cooks in respectable Bay Area restuarants without having wasted a lot of money on culinary school. This legacy has been a point of pride.
I ran into Sam on the street for the first time in a couple of years just a few of weeks ago. He recognized me immediately, and in a brief second I recognize him. He was so different for the sullen 16 year old I knew from the past. He was beeming, so happy to see me, and the feeling was immediately mutual.
“Sam, I'm so sorry about Arleen.”
“I'm better. I'm in grief counceling now. I'm better.”
“You look great, man!” ('You look exactly like Sean White.' I thought, but with brown hair.)
“Come down to Lalime's on a Thursday night and sit at the counter. I'll send somethings out for you.”
“Okay my friend, I can't wait.”
I didn't make our date, to which I would have also invited my daughter.
Now there isn't any next week.
RIP my young friend. What a terrible accident, what a terrible loss.