Sharing Sam’s Celebration of Life & Love (Sam’s Story, Part 4)

By Ed Rubenstein, Ph.D., HBI’s Director of Education

Sam was physically declining quite rapidly due to the progression of ALS, a neurological disease. In the spring of 2019, I would joke with Sam and say, “Don’t you dare leave us before November.” The reason was that at the end of October 2019, there was an international retreat being held in Asheville, and Sam was looking forward to spending time with his dear friend and teacher, Irmansyah Effendi. However, due to Sam’s physical decline he was confined to his bed and unable to travel by car.

At the end of October, Irmansyah visited Sam twice at home, and the encounter was so very joyous. Part of the conversation was about how to transition from an earthly existence while remaining in the Love of True Source. Sam was so very grateful for all the spiritual guidance he had received about “being in the experience of relying on the Love of our Source as the key to life and that which is beyond.” On November 11, Sam said to me that he knew his days on earth were coming to an end soon. Sam passed peacefully on November 23.

Sam surrounded by Love
Surrounded by Love, Sam with his wife Sandi Tomlin-Sutker, dear friends Ed and Paramjit Rubenstein and Willy Iskandar, and his spiritual teacher, Irmansyah Effendi

During those 12 days, Sam asked me if I would officiate a Celebration of Life ceremony for him. When I asked him what he wanted me to share, he said, “Whatever you like…I trust you.” I replied, “Sam, I’d like to share what you’d like me to share with everyone. Tell me some things about life that are important to you.”

He said “KISS.”  I know many of you know this acronym. It’s commonly referred to as Keep it Simple Stupid. I smiled and said, “Sam, are you sure you want me to say that to all people who come to your Celebration of Life…to look them in the eyes and call them stupid?” 

Sam chuckled and said, “No…I want to tell them…Keep it Simple Spark…because we are all sparks of the Creator.”

I asked Sam for some other key points he felt were important to share, which I jotted them down.  Sam spoke about:

  • The importance of keeping things lighthearted
  • Our attitude towards others affects the quality of our connections
  • Forgiveness
  • Relying on the Love of our Creator, the Source of Unconditional Love, to help us
  • The illusion that we are all alone and separate and that it is up to us to do everything 
  • How the journey of life is not about trying to become a perfect being, but about Love and our connection with our Creator

I then turned on the recorder and spontaneously interviewed Sam about these points. We made two recordings lasting about ten minutes each. 

On November 14, I was scheduled to teach workshops out of state and would not be returning until November 21. I was so grateful that when I returned I had a chance to say my final farewell to my dear friend before he transitioned from earth two days later.

Sam’s Celebration of Life Ceremony was held on December 7, 2019, at the local volunteer fire department in the neighborhood where Sam had lived. The Love and gratitude were palpable as people from Sams past along with the local community and Vaya Health, where Sam was employed and had trained over 800 Peer Support Specialists, all joined together to honor and celebrate how Sam had deeply touched their hearts and their lives:

I trust you will enjoy what Sam felt to share with friends, family, co-workers and the Peer Support Specialists he helped to train.