As I Hoped, A Personal Perspective

Thankfully, the interview answers I was most anticipating have arrived in my inbox.

This whole project was conceived as a way to honor my friend Sam. Her story is by far not unique; but she was the first person I knew who went through it. Combine the tragedy of her story with her age at the time of her death, it it becomes all the more painful to remember.

That pain is particularly prominent for her former girlfriend, A (full name withheld by request). A went through a whirlwind of emotions during the year that she was with Sam, from the dating site where they met to the site where Sam’s cremains were interred.

I reached out to A a week ago via email. She’s moved out of the area, so getting together before my deadline would have been an impractical, logistical nightmare for the two of us. Following the advice of Postmodern Interviewing, I sent her a series of questions (as I enumerated here), and earlier today I got her reply.

I knew that it wouldn’t be easy for her, but she was surprisingly candid and frank. I guess being almost two years away from Sam’s death (and having been able to move on; A now has a new girlfriend and they’re both happy) has taken some of the sting from it.

What surprised me in A’s responses was the fact that Sam apparently spoke very little with her about her time in Iraq. She mentioned once to A about pulling people out of a flaming overturned vehicle — this came about as Sam and A were driving down the street and passed a car that had flipped over — but that was really it.

I had no idea that I would know more about Sam’s time in Iraq than A did.

The picture she paints of Sam’s homelife wasn’t a pretty one.

Sam had frequent nightmares. She was restless at night and slept very little. She was in and out of rehabs, and many times A would take her there just to have some peace. A never knew if it was the PTSD, if it was the drug abuse, or if it was both that made Sam act the way she did. A even went so far as to get an apartment for the two of them in Mystic Island, peaceful on the water and far away from Camden and Philly (Sam’s areas of choice for illegal purchases), but that didn’t help. Sam would just take A’s car and drive a little further, every other day.

But that doesn’t surprise me. I knew Sam wouldn’t stop. Like I said in my first entry, Sam said she’d use until the day she died.

Regardless, A’s insight was invaluable. I won’t write much more about it — A asked me to keep as much of it to myself as I could, and only share in public what I felt was absolutely necessary — but I do want to thank her publicly. She’s helped me see parts of my friend I didn’t know were there. Parts I wish I knew about while she was still alive. I know, logically, there was nothing more I could have done to help her. You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.

But maybe if I tried a little harder…

No. Can’t go there. Down that way lies madness, right?

At any rate, thanks, A. For everything.

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About Joseph F. Berenato

Joseph F. Berenato obtained a B.A. in English and spent four years as the entertainment editor of The Hammonton Gazette before returning to his roots at his family's blueberry farm in Hammonton, NJ. In 2014, Joe conceived, edited, and contributed to New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics. He also co-edited three books examining Star Wars and two books examining Planet of the Apes for Sequart with Rich Handley. Joe wrote the introduction for IDW Publishing's Star Trek: Gold Key Archives Volume 3 as well as retrospective essays for that company’s Star Trek #50 and their Star Trek Gold Key 100-Page Spectacular. He also contributed to ATB Publishing's Star Trek anthology Outside In Boldly Goes. He holds a Master of Arts in Writing from Rowan University, and is an adjunct professor with Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing, NJ, where he teaches freshman composition and serves as advisor for the school’s student-run newspaper, the Atlantic Cape Review. You can find Joe at jfberenato.wordpress.com or at www.dinernation.com, and on Twitter at @JFBerenato.
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