To lose a loved one at any time in life turns your whole world upside down. To lose a child turns everything back to front.
I always imagined it would be me up there and Sam down here but that is not how it has happened. At the young age of 41 he’s gone and here we all are wondering how and why.
I was there when he came into the world. I held him when he let out his first cries. I remember the day he took his first steps and the day he spoke his first word. I watched him grow from that beautiful child (too beautiful by half with his white blond hair and his brown eyes) into a gangly youth, somewhat clumsy and more than a little self-conscious. I remember the day when I first noticed that he was now taller than me and feeling somewhat miffed.
Sam was never going to become a scientist, or a doctor or anything that required academic qualifications. That wasn’t his forte. He enjoyed his sport and it was a big part of his life for quite some time. I believe he was pretty good at some of the things he did.
What I was most proud of was his nature. In his better years he was a softie. He had a good heart and his six feet two inches or thereabouts of stature and his chunky frame was something of a contrast to the sweet natured personality that dwelt inside of him.
He was definitely his mummy’s boy. They had a special bond and it was a joy to see it. Janine was an only child so she never experienced the joy of having a brother or a sister. I think that explains why Sam was such a precious part of her life. That was true for June, his Nan, as well. He was always her ‘special love’. That’s not to minimise in any way the love they had or that we all have for Alex. She’s always been something of a Daddy’s girl which is a great joy for me, of course. It’s because love is such a mysterious thing, a many splendoured thing, a multi coloured and a complex thing.
That said, Sam was always affectionate toward his Dad. I’ll miss the way he greeted me in that Brummie accent of his, “Oroit Dad.’ I remember how one day I’d come down from Manchester and arranged to meet him in town outside Rackhams. I parked the car and made my way over there and from a distance I saw him standing, anxiously searching the crowd for my face. I emerged and up went his arms, mine too and we embraced each other with an almighty kiss. This was in the days before rainbows had been invented and we must have looked a bit of a sight to the passers-by, but we didn’t care.
It was a proud and a happy day for us all when he married his childhood sweetheart, Vicky. It was a moment in his life when he was truly happy and a period in his life when he was doing well and had his hopes fixed on the future. Their love for each other gave them two lovely boys and he was very proud of James and Noah. I wish it could have turned out differently for you all, I really do. I hope the happiness that you did have together shines brightly for you, always.
These latter years have been darker. I know Sam found new love and it was good to see that his difficulties within himself hadn’t caused him to give up on life, that he still believed he could find love and enjoy all the blessings that sharing your life with another person can bring. But there was something there inside of Sam that took him beyond our grasp. I don’t understand what it was that took a hold of him or why it was that the things he’d once worked for no longer brought him the satisfaction and the solace that they used to.
In the story of the Prodigal Son the lad leaves his Father’s house and goes away to a place that is called simply a distant country. That was true of Sam. Where he was in his own mind I do not know but it seemed to me that he was a long way away. I think it would be true to say that we all felt that something had taken hold of him and placed him over there rather than here, with us, the people he once trusted and who have always loved him.
We will never know what it was or why it was. The answer to that question has gone with him.
But I am his Dad and I want to say today that despite there being some things in Sam’s life that have not made me proud there is a great deal about Sam that does make me very proud indeed. It is a modern nonsense that we seem only to judge a person by the last thing he’s done. We seem to have lost the capacity for seeing a person for the many things they have been throughout the years of their life. As I said, I heard Sam take his first breath; I’ve known him for every day of his life and I can bear witness to the fact that the good in him far outweighs the bad.
Sam was a good man, a kind man, a gentle man, a man with a big heart that could love truly and love well. Sam was a beautiful child and a handsome man but there was beauty also within and it makes me unutterably proud to be able to say that he was my son. Like the Father in the story I will not let the darkness of recent years obscure the fact of who Sam truly was. I would always go out to him and embrace him and say, “My son, who once was lost has now been found. Kill the fatted calf and let us celebrate!” I would do that because that is what it means to be a Father.
I used to put him to bed when he was little. I can’t remember if I did but I imagine I sang a lullaby from time to time. I hope James Blunt will forgive me for mashing his lyrics:
Oh, before they turn off all the lights
I won’t read you your wrongs or your rights
The time has gone
I’ll tell you goodnight, close the door
Tell you I love you once more
The time has gone
So here it is
You are my son, I am your father
(But) We’re just two grown men saying goodbye
No need to forgive, no need to forget
I know your mistakes and you know mine
And while you’re sleeping I’ll try to make you proud
So, Sammy, won’t you just close your eyes?
Don’t be afraid, it’s my turn
To chase the monsters away…………
May God give you the peace you sought here but which in recent years you seldom found. Sleep now.
© Judas was Paid 2022