Did you ever get an email from someone you knew was no longer living? Well, I did. And I looked again at the From line to make sure my eyes were still working. There it was. Sameer Grover had definitely sent the email.
Sameer was a new friend I met in an extreme editing class. He read his work with a certain joy and just seemed to relish the class and everyone in it. His prose was almost poetry, his style was so soft and delicate. The words slipped over my senses like the silk I brought home from China. I had thought he might spice it up a little. But that was not Sameer’s way.
For our class he brought in sections of his novel, which we diligently critiqued. And the fact that I remember what his writing was is a measure of the impact his pleasant, philosophical words had on me. Sameer didn’t seem very old, maybe 25 or 35, (I don’t know) but his ideas were well thought out and I learned a lot about his religion. It was impossible not to like him.
For our final class lunch, he brought a delicious seaweed dip, and we enjoyed it so much he promised to forward the instructions to us. True to his word, a couple of weeks later the recipe arrived in an email. Finding the exotic ingredients was a story in itself, but I did, and the result was great. Now my pantry always contains sheets of seaweed and I actually know that a vegan mayonnaise exists.
Sameer published one book, at least, before he died. I know because I was one of those he asked to read it. Soon after he died his father sent notices to Sameer’s email contacts, a sad duty, I’m sure, but one I appreciated. Sameer’s father didn’t say what had taken his son, but I replied with kind words I hoped would help.
A year or so later, another email came. Same address, same odd ripple of sadness at seeing it. This time Sameer’s father was announcing a collection of his son’s essays soon to be published. What a wonderful way to keep Sameer’s memory alive.
Sameer taught me about joy, about daring to get his work out there, and about making a fantastic dip with seaweed. His father taught me about keeping the memory of a loved one alive in the best way he could.
So today I encourage you to remember people you’ve met, whose lives have ended. What have you learned from them? How do you remember them now? Do they enter your own writing in some way? Share in a comment, if you will.