It’s a cold day in Minnesota. Sky and earth are the same shade of alien, unending white. This is my home now, but for the past few days I’ve been missing Houston, the city I used to call home, more than ever. Right now, I couldn’t miss it more. I feel as cold and unearthly as the weather outside, because today I learned that my fellow Rice student, Sam Waters, is gone.
I haven’t seen Sam for quite some time. As I sit here, different memories flit through my mind, memories from when we were both younger, when we both lived in Texas. I remember Sam visiting our floor and then singing in the elevator all the way down to the basement, his powerful voice echoing off the walls of the elevator shaft. I remember giggling with my friend as we listened to him, half amazed at his talent, half laughing at his warm, carefree attitude.
I remember sitting up late drawing the spirit animals of my floor-mates. I am not an artist, so a lot of the pictures came out … odd, but I taped them up anyway. One Saturday night, Sam was hanging out in the study lobby, and he looked carefully at the pictures I had drawn.
“Did you draw all of these?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“They’re beautiful,” he said, his face and voice completely sincere. At the time, I thought he must be crazy to think that my art was anywhere near beautiful. But now I think I know what he meant; he was admiring the hours of work I’d put into the drawings, how much I cared about my floor-mates to do something like that, even if I was only a slightly creepy, slightly depressed underclassman.
I also remember later on, learning that he was sick, and the surprise I felt the first time I saw him after I got the news. It was the night of the last party of the year, and I was either on my way to the party or going home when I saw him and his friends in one of the breezeways at Brown. They were shaving his head, and as I got closer some of the music majors broke into an impromptu barbershop quartet. I felt the love that all of us had for Sam, keeping us warm despite the cool spring wind.
I always thought of Sam as someone who was superhuman, because he was so talented, so handsome, so strong in faith, mind, and body. I realize now that wasn’t fair. Sam was human, just like the rest of us, but he was good despite his imperfections. I will look up to him always.
My thoughts go out to Sam’s friends and family, and to the entire Rice community. I miss him so much. I miss you all so much.