I was up early, eager to fulfill my Biennial responsibility as a Torah guardian. In this role, I was responsible for carrying one of the many scrolls that would be used in the service from the storage room to the site of the service, keeping an eye on it throughout, and, afterward, returning it safely to the room where it would remain with the others under lock and key until it was returned to the local congregation from which it had been borrowed.
I know I fulfilled those responsibilities, but they are not what I remember most about that morning.
I remember that as I gulped the last bit of a much-needed cup of coffee on my way to pick up my Torah scroll, a colleague told me that Sam had died.
I remember that as I carried the scroll from the storage room, I couldn’t see where I was going because the tears, hot bubbles of grief, gripped my eyelids.
I remember that I tried to read this blog post on the small screen of the phone that belongs to the blogger’s father, but my tears dripped onto the screen, and I couldn't see the words, much less comprehend their meaning.
I remember that I skipped Shabbat lunch and called United Airlines instead, trying to add a stop in Chicago to my return trip, scheduled for the next day. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it work, and I still haven’t made it to the Windy City.)
Mostly, I remember Sam.
Although we never met, I remember a spunky, snarky, funny, turtle-loving kid.
I remember a kid who loved mac-and-cheese, drawing, watching movies, wearing stick-on moustaches, and making funny faces.
Thanks to his parents’ generosity in sharing their family's story, I remember the lessons he taught us all about how to live.Today and everyday, I remember Sam, a kid whose life was snuffed out before it barely had begun, and whose memory is -- and always will be -- a sweet and treasured blessing.