Remembrance of Samantha by: Casey Arnone, Samantha's Friend

Why is it when you felt as if the whole world was pulling you down, Sam was always the one to pull you back up? I guess that's a rhetorical question because anyone who ever met Sam, or even crossed her path for the briefest encounter could instantly recognize her bright spirit, energetic character, contagious laughter, genuine heart, and loving soul.

I had the privilege to call Sam one of my best friends, as I know she called me. While we shared so many lifelong memories, one seems to bubble to the surface. I will always remember the one night we were riding together and Sam hit a squirrel. We both immediately started laughing and any of you who have heard Sam laugh really hard, her laugh is funny itself. Well I started laughing at her laughing and she started laughing at me laughing and we laughed literally for the entire 20 minutes home. That's what makes you fall in love with Sam. Sometimes it's just the simplest things that you remember forever.

Many of you know Sam was probably one of the skinniest girls you knew. But somehow in that little body, there was an endless pit. One morning after she stayed at my house, my father made us breakfast. He made a huge omelet made of at least ten eggs that he expected me, my brothers, and Sam to split. My dad jokingly put the entire omelet in front of Sam and said "Here you go Sam, eat up!" Sam's eyes immediately lit up, and we all watched as Sam scarfed down the entire omelet, talking as if there was nothing wrong. And I can't even begin to tell you everything that happened at lunch. Sam always sat across from me at the table, and one day she asked me for a tater tot. Not even waiting for my response she reached over and ate one. It was no big deal until I look at her tray and she had a big pile of them right in front of her. When I gave her a look followed by a "Really?" she knew exactly why because she just laughed and laughed. Everyday it was bite of this and a piece of that. It drove me crazy, but I could never say to no to that sweet face; but one day I had to draw the line. I had one of those bite sized Reese cup , the ones that are a size of a quarter, and she had the nerve to ask for a bite of it. It was something between us; whatever one of us had, the other wanted a piece of. Day after day we were not only sharing pieces of food, but pieces of our hearts. We all know what a big heart she had, and its more than enough to share. And now, on behalf of Sam, I ask everyone here to keep a piece of her in your hearts. Plant it, nurture it, and above all, share it and maybe the world would be as she saw it. Maybe everyone will think twice before they judge someone. Think twice before they say something negative. And think twice before they show hatred. As she never did any of these.

At 17 years old Sam's vision and outlook she had on life, and the faith she had in everyone that surrounded her was impeccable. Out of all 207 students in my graduating class, I don't know one who has stronger morals then Sam. There is no doubt she spread her lesson throughout this whole community. No matter who you are, where you are from, what you look like or what you've been through, Sam accepted you. And that fact, that fact alone, is exactly why this community came together so strongly with her death. And I know if Sam was still here today, she would thoughtless sacrifice herself if she knew from her death our community would become a family. Why? Because that was just Sam. She wanted other people to be happy before she was happy.

When the reality of Sam's death was sinking in, my mother told me a story that helped me get through this tragedy, as I hope it will help all of you as well. She told me to think of this passing as a tapestry or a cross stitch. It has two sides. The underneath is where we are all standing now. From here we see the knots, the tangles, the ugliness, the confusion, and the colors all mixed together. But each one of these represents a tragedy we experience or an obstacle we have to overcome. While these are hard to understand, they all play a huge role in something important. The importance is the beautiful picture on the other side. That's what God sees. Right now, while we're underneath, we may not be able to grasp why such an inspiring, beautiful, glowing girl was taken from us, but God sees a beautiful picture that we will eventually see when we meet with Sam again.

This week, thousands of tears have streamed down our face. But for each tear that we have shed for Sam, she has given us a thousand reasons to smile and a thousand reasons to remember we were all so blessed to have her in our lives.

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