A Tribute to “Superman Sam” – by Rachel Kohl Finegold

December 17, 2013

The Jewish blogosphere has been flooded with outpourings of love, support and sympathy for the family of Sam Sommer – “Superman Sam” who passed away this past Friday night at the age of 8, losing a battle to leukemia.

One might ironically imagine Sam’s childlike excitement at knowing that he has become “famous”. This was a boy who wanted fireworks at his funeral. (Instead, his community organized a professional fireworks display for him weeks before his death.) Having never met Sam, I could only assume that he would be pleased to know that his story has made it to the Forward, the Chicago Tribune, and TODAY.com. His life has touched thousands.

Today, Sam’s little body was buried.

I do not figure in the circle of Sam Sommer’s life. I met his mother, Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, only once or twice. I became Facebook friends with her, and followed Sam’s journey only toward the end of his life, as my Facebook feed began to buzz with words of support and deep, deep sadness, knowing that Sammy was not going to make it.

And yet, today I mourned.

Today, I went about my day in a daze, thinking

“Now, they are eulogizing him” and

“Now, they are shoveling earth into his grave” and

“Now, there are parents sitting shiva for their child.”

I absent-mindedly drove doing mundane errands, as I missed a turn and forgot where I was going. The banalities of life were hard to manage on a day like today.

Tonight, I lingered a little longer in my children’s rooms as I kissed them good night.

“Hamal’ach hago’el… yivarech et hane’arim…”

May God’s angel bless these children.

May God protect them from suffering,

Within this, a selfish request –

God, protect ME from the suffering of my children.

The night I learned about Sammy’s death, all three of my kids (ages 4 and under) were awake in the middle of the night – this one needing another drink, that one with a stuffy nose, and the baby wanting to nurse, yet again. What might have driven me to anger and frustration on another night, simply didn’t matter that night. Tending to my beautiful, healthy children’s mundane needs was a gift. I was grateful to be dealing with runny noses and nothing more.

And perhaps that is how the banalities of life can go on after Sam Sommer has gone from this world.

May Sam’s story keep us awash in gratitude.

May he sensitize us to our blessings.

The strength of the Sommer family shone through when, even in the midst of the darkest times, they were celebrating mundane moments – being grateful for their blessings.

Hamechadesh b’tuvo b’chol yom tamid ma’aseh Bereishit.”
God renews daily, perpetually, the work of creation.

The miracles of creation are all around us.

Let us open our eyes to the mundane miracles that surround us daily.

In Sam’s memory, let us count our blessings.