Hearing about your leaving us, Sam, was like being punched in the stomach. Not that I couldn't breathe, but I couldn't speak.
Being by nature one who feels guilty easily, I felt guilty. For all the things I didn't do for you that you had asked of me, particularly when you called repeatedly to ask me to come to Washington D.C. with you on the train, two weeks ago.
I thought of the story that Jesus told, of a king who had prepared a huge party, and invited all sorts of guests, and many if not most refused to come, saying they were too busy for whatever reason.
Next time I will be much more hesitant to refuse an invitation like I did yours, Sam.
I have to believe I will see you again, Sam. You can't be gone forever. You have too much life there, to vanish into nothingness.
I think again of what Jesus said, about how if a grain of wheat remains as it is, it remains a solitary grain of wheat; but if it dies, it brings forth fruit a hundredfold. Was this a piece of organizing strategy on your part, Sam? To prod all the rest of us into action?
So for now, me and the others in my boat will just have to carry you around in our hearts, and remember, and do what we can to try to do what you would have done. Help us to find the energy and enthusiasm for it, Sam.
I remember when Kathy Kelly called you "the helium for our sagging balloons." I remember how fond you were of telling the story about our arraignment in Kansas City, and how you would embroider the details, and sometimes I would attempt to correct you, and sometimes not.
I remember what a wonderful support you were for me when I was hauled into court in Madison last year, and you and Mary Beth were there to be my emotional support. At Dotty Dumpling's afterwards, I told you stories about the Kansas City arraignment that even you had never heard before. And I asked you to be Clara's and Georgia's honorary godfather, since Mary Beth's husband Jim had passed away.
I remember last summer, when we had an e-mail discussion about signatures. You were signing your e-mails 'in solidarity.' I asked why you used that, and we had an ongoing discussion. And you signed one of your replies, 'in fervent solidarity.' And I laughed.
I remember what a wonderful train ride we had home this last September. We talked about everything, didn't we? Gossip and politics and religion. You went with me to the Eucharist at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker on Saturday, where we were privileged to have Fr. Richard McSorley presiding. You confided that Kathleen was afraid you would become a Catholic. Is there much danger of that? I asked. You smiled and said, no.
We talked about saints. You quoted one about Dorothy Day that you were so fond of, namely that when somebody told her they would try to have her declared a saint, she said, "I hope that people take me more seriously than that." I returned with one of my own favorites, namely by Augustine: "O Lord, make me a saint... but not yet." And you laughed at that.
And you told me that you were getting to the point where you were going to have to let go of large pieces of the Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu. And we talked about who could possibly take on which pieces.
And the next morning we arrived in Chicago, and waited in the train station for your bus to Madison. The newspapers were all abuzz with news that Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount - on exactly the day we had gone to the Israeli embassy -- had caused an explosion of violence in Israel. I said, it sounds like the assassination of what-was-his-name, in Austria? Yes, the Archduke Ferdinand, you said. It does sound like that, doesn't it.
To pass the time, I read you the beginning pages of the book The Hobbit. The beginning chapter is 'An Unexpected Party.' You said, 'that sounds good.' I realized, while reading the description about hobbits, how well the description fit you.
The bus pulled up, and I helped you in. And that was the last time I ever saw you.
I can't imagine how Kathleen managed to share you with the world so gracefully. But I'm glad she did.
And I had no idea how much I loved you, until I heard that you weren't here anymore.
Well, I certainly learned the hard way about how putting things off for a week just could be putting them off forever; but I hope I will also learn how to recognize where there's love, and say so.
Rest in peace, Sam. We'll see you again someday.
In fervent solidarity,