Sunday, September 21, 2014


Last March, I wrote a post about my daughter's best friend, Sam. That post generated more traffic than anything I've written since I started my blog in 2009.

Originally hospitalized for pneumonia, the doctors discovered that Sam had a virus in his heart. He was immediately sent to UCLA for a battery of tests. The community rallied around Sam, and a benefit concert was organized last April to help cover the cost of a heart transplant. Jeff Bridges and The Abiders (yes, that Jeff Bridges) performed along with Dishwalla to a sold out crowd at the beautiful Lobero Theater. 

During the last four months, Sam endured severe diet and water restrictions. His heart's inefficiency to circulate blood properly combined with a myriad of drugs, creating a fluctuations of up to 15 lbs. of water a single day. After having a stroke last March, Sam never fully regained sight in his left eye. 

A week and a half ago, Sam received a partial mechanical heart with the end goal of receiving an heart transplant in three months. His mom Judy noticed almost immediately that his feet were warmer and his color had improved. Although Sam was no longer sedated, the medicine remained in his body due to his poor circulation and liver function, and he continued to be delusional. The nursing staff asked Judy who 'Girldoll' was, and they told her that he had been saying her name. We were invited to see Sam last Sunday, in the hope that it would reset his memory and help him transition out of his dream state.

The morning we were supposed to drive to Los Angeles, I received a text from his dad that Sam had scheduled a gall bladder surgery that day. About 20 minute later, a second text came in saying that Sam's surgery was rescheduled for the following day. Were we able to come after all? 

We were on the road within 45 minutes of receiving his text. 

I was warned that Sam was still pretty loopy, so I prepared Girldoll that he might not make sense. I assured her that he would recognize us. Sure enough, Sam's eyes lit up when we came into his hospital room, and he was thrilled to see Girldoll. 

True to form, Sam was hilarious; he joked about the small size of the hospital bed, while his feet dangled off the end. When Girldoll asked how many fingers she was holding up, Sam held up his middle finger and replied, "Oh, I don't" He moved in and out of lucidity; one moment Sam was present, and the next he was asking if we went to his 'Halloween garbage birthday party'. The room couldn't contain his dry sense of humor. We stayed for almost two hours, and I was surprised at how quickly the time passed. 

On Wednesday, just three days after our visit, Sam's body crashed. His team performed CPR and re-opened his chest to massage his heart - right on his hospital bed, in the same room we had been standing in only three days earlier. They took him to surgery to repair some internal bleeding, and ended up operating on Sam for 9 hours. He never regained consciousness. 

Thursday morning, I was devastated to see that I had missed a call from Judy. Sam had lost brain function, and they were taking him off life support. It is apparent where Sam got his extraordinary compassion from; even through her grief, Judy reached out to our family so my daughter didn't have to read on Facebook that her best friend had died. 

The last three days have been very difficult for Girldoll. My daughter gave the gift of friendship - only to be repaid tenfold. All I can think about is seeing Girldoll and Sam holding hands, their faces close together. It is not lost on us how blessed we were to see Sam in the hospital, one last time.  

The whole community is in shock. We attended an informal memorial last Friday night at the beach. A hundred people released flowers into the ocean, and later in the evening several kids began playing guitar and singing Samo's favorite songs:  

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift
Yourself up off by the floor

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here

Dare You To Move by Switchfoot

Sam 'Samo' Osterhage
Oct. 29, 1996 - September 19, 2014
Always in our hearts.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words. Tomorrow will be two weeks since Sam died, and it seems impossible that he's really gone.

  2. You are so sweet, Cristy xoxoxo