It has been five years since Sam passed away, and I can say while writing this today that the pain I feel now is just as strong as the day he died. Part of me left that day along with him. I can't express in words the amount of guilt and sadness that comes with losing a sibling, especially in this way. We grew up in a big family of 6 kids. Sam and I were close in age; I was born fourth and Sam was about 2 years younger than me. One of my favorite memories of Sam is how much he loved turtles when he was little. I can remember him saying that he was going to be a veterinarian when he grew up so he could work with animals every day (or maybe as his wise older sister that's what I told him he was going to do). Another thing I can remember Sam doing is always playing with G.I. Joes and little green army men. For some reasonhe loved the Dallas Cowboys. Welived our whole lives in Missouri, so I'm not sure where that came from, but they were his team. Sam played basketball and football, but wrestling was his passion. I loved going to wrestling tournaments to watch and cheer for him.Being in high school at the same time is something that I wish I had not taken for granted. I wantso much to have that time back to listen to and love him just a little more.My junior year, my friend Tiffany asked Sam to prom. That meant Sam, our brother Adam (he was a senior) and I all attended prom at the same time. It was a unique experience to have all three of us atthe same dance, and something I will never forget. Sam wore Curve cologne. It's a scent that I can pick up anywhere and will forever be a memory of him. That is justa glimpse of the story of Sam's life.Formost of it, there were fun times, and we allhave special moments that we remember and cherish in order to keep a piece of him with us every day. Sam's struggle with drugs and alcohol began towards the end of high school. From what I can remember he started with cigarettes, and then was introduced to marijuana and alcohol. I'm not sure of the timeline that he progressed to using meth, but he gradually lost a lot of weight. By this point he no longer cared about school, wrestling, or friends (unless they were people he was doing drugs with). At his lowest point, he was riding in the car with my Dad and little brother, Jamie, and was going through withdrawal. He was hallucinating and even tried to make my Dad run the car off the road while he was driving. Jamie was in middle school at the time. I can't even imagine what that experience was like for him. My Dad checked Sam into rehab that day. Following a long and difficult process, he was able to overcome his addictionto meth. Sam returned to normal for awhile, and it was so great to have him back. I wish I could say that's it and the story ended happily. Unfortunately, Sam was put in the exact same situation from before he went to rehab. He began abusing prescription drugs and his death ultimately resulted from an overdose. The week before he died he called me and was upset at his situation at home. I was in college and living my life the way I wanted. He asked if he could come stay with me and I told him no. I didn't want him to mess things up for me. The extreme selfishness I displayed then is something I can never take back. I live with that guilt every day. Iwant people to read this and know that it can happen to anyone, any family. Looking back, I have so many regrets. My biggest regret is not responding when Sam needed help. He was only 18 when he died. He never graduated from high school. Never got to have a 21st birthday party. He never had a chance to meet 2 of his nieces. Never had a chance to get married or have kids of his own. While I don't want this memorial to be solely about the struggle with substance abuse that Sam endured, I do hope that hearing his story will help a parent, sibling, or friend reach out to a loved one and prevent another tragic death. *I miss you every day….you're in my thoughts forever*
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