Carrying On The Good Fight

Posted on: December 15, 2013

“In the English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child.”  -Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

Dear Sammy/Superman Sam,

You wouldn’t know me.  We never had the privilege of meeting in person.  Yet I speak for hundreds of people when I say you’ve changed my life in ways you could not have imagined.

Several months ago, I discovered your parents’ “Superman Sam” blog, thanks to friends of mine, and my rabbi who is a dear friend of your family.  And I, a healthy 20-year-old with (very fortunately) no experience with life-threatening illnesses, began quietly following your story.  I feel as if I know you now.  But that is not enough.

I read about every good day and every bad day.

I read about the transplant, and will never forget your words to your cells, and your parents’ prayers.  Superman himself would envy your courage.

When I was frustrated about whatever trivial things were happening in my life, I went to the blog, and your strength gave me strength too.

I cheered when you went into remission, and as you grew stronger every day.

At Shabbat services on campus, literally HUNDREDS of people, who never even met you, said your name during the Mi Sheberach and dedicated their Torah study sessions to you.

A month ago, when the cancer came back, I refused to believe it.  I kept praying and hoping for a miracle, as before.

At that point, we were all reminded that tomorrow is promised to no one.  That the ground beneath our feet can shift in a moment, and life is so very fragile.

Yesterday, I walked past a display of Superman pajamas at Target and thought of you.  Then I went online and saw the news.  And I wept, as if you were a member of my family.  Because you are.  All of Israel is responsible for one another.  Your suffering, and your family’s sorrow and determination to fight back, is all of ours too.

Now, what I must do is join the many people who are speaking out on your behalf.  I will show the world how utterly wrong it is that childhood cancers only receive 4 percent of all cancer research funding.  The world is certainly more than 4 percent children, and children certainly don’t add up to 4 percent of all cancer cases.  Does that make people angry?  Well, it should.

I will do whatever I can to help other children, in your name.  Maybe it’s fundraising for more research and better outcomes, maybe I’ll pursue social work one day.  Who knows.

Today we mourn.  But tomorrow, we spring into action once more.

Sammy, you wanted to do something amazing, and you did.  You united hundreds, thousands of people, through your bravery, in only 8 short years.

May his memory be for a blessing.  

I always wondered why we say “for“, rather than just “may his memory be a blessing”.  Now I think I understand why: so that the people closest to the late person can turn to their memories for a purpose, for comfort, for inspiration.  That is what I wish for the Sommer family and all others.

File:Superman shield.png


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