Samantha Gabay

Obituary of Samantha Gabay

Dear Sam,

We wish the contents of this letter could have been definitively known to you, and could have played a greater role in your last spontaneous decision. The decision that has torn a hole in our hearts and our perception of time, suspending our minds and thoughts in that instance when we first heard the worst imaginable news. The news of how we would never laugh with you again, joke around about the silliest of things, call you by your nickname, or just know that you are always somewhere, putting a smile on someone's face and making us all think positively about life.

Your life was full of joy and happiness, and we will always remember you as being smart, warm-hearted, content yet ambitious, adventurous, caring and generous, and most importantly, having the best personality. They say great leaders cast large shadows - yours not only stood strong and tall, but your intense charisma left a lifetime impression with whomever you met, regardless of how long they knew you.

We always told you we loved you, but we don't believe you really knew how much you meant to us and so many others who you interacted with throughout your life. During your Shiva, we have heard so many remarkable stories about how you have helped numerous people and kept it to yourself - we could only aspire to be more like you. We know that you also had your flaws and although we would take issue with it at times - please rest assured that if everyone only had your imperfections, then the world would be a far better and happier place.

You were the type of person who would rather hurt herself than bring upon any form of harm to others. That being said, we also believe that you have always been too hard on yourself. The world is not a perfect place, yet you always felt like you may not have been good enough to fit in as you were. But to the contrary, having been reborn, you owned and experienced the best of both worlds. If only you knew how many of us envied you and your qualities, then maybe you would have been more open to different suggestions with which you wouldn't initially agree.

We realized that you had taken on a huge task of coming out and transitioning your life, and you faced a lot of cruel and unnecessary intolerance and discrimination. You even left your phone unlocked so we could see what you were dealing with. But through your struggle, the most important thing we have tried to convey to you was that we will always love you, want you in our lives and be there for you - but, most importantly, that your health and well-being was our primary concern.

Transitioning shouldn't mean that you become careless with your health decisions - especially when you have a beautiful daughter and her future to consider. It also shouldn't mean that you throw away your past life, but embrace it as the cornerstone of what has led you to where you are. We loved you as both Simon and Samantha for so many countless reasons. Although you were the middle child, to Mom and Dad, you were always the favorite - so much so, that your last action has really broken them mentally by making their worst nightmare come true. They, much like us, will never be able to fully comprehend and accept living their life without you.

To Donna, you were always like the core pillar of a triplet, consisting of you, her and Sharon - regardless of whether you were Simon or Samantha. Like us, she still has a very tough time dealing with your passing, overwhelmed by every type of emotion, including anger and guilt, and questioning what led you to take a wrong turn and whether we could have all done more to help and prevent it. We know this line of thinking won't bring you back or put our minds at ease, but at the very least, it may help us to learn from your mistakes.

To Eli, you were always his 'BFF' - he always imagined you both as each others' first responder in combatting any challenges in life. He loves to remember the happy times you spent together, whether it was during trips, parties, events or holidays, as well as those long talks and ideas you shared about the most random philosophical topics. Although you and Eli would not always arrive at the same conclusion, he always admired your ability to sell your ideas - you were always the marketing genius in that regard.

To Ezra, you were always like a sibling. You were the first to know about his plans with Donna. You were also the first to welcome him to be part of our family early on, and always made him feel comfortable during family events.

Eddie had the same experience and will always remember your huge heart and warm friendly smile, as well as your ability to never say no to anyone in need. To Jack, you were his biggest inspiration. He holds on to so many memories with you from when he grew up - all the jokes you shared, the blue monster stories you told him, all the places you took him, and the years you both played Xbox together. He admired you for all of your kind and wonderful qualities and you will always be in his heart.

To Jamie, you were the first sister in her family. You always took the time to ask about others, get to know them on a deeper level, and show great thoughtfulness and empathy towards them. When in a debate, you had the strength to prove that it's not always about being right; it's about showing that you value your relationship with that person more than you value your ego. You were never too busy to care, or to make sure every person you knew was having the best day possible. You were always available to encourage others to be their best selves, and Jamie knows she is better for knowing you. Her only wish is to have spent more time with you and to show you how much you are loved.

To Karen, you were always a sounding board. She admired your personality, your endearing laugh, your drive for success, and your constant need to put others before yourself. Above all things, you taught her to never take time with family for granted. She has learned a lot from you and promises to always honor your memory by getting involved and supporting others.

To Sharon, you were always someone who she could count on. You would always ask about her day (as you have done for us all) and inquire about her problems and needs. You always proved to everyone what a great person you were without caring for recognition. From your latest conversations with Sharon, you kept explaining that she shouldn't put much emphasis about what others may think; and that she should always focus on what makes her happy. She feels like your main purpose in life was to help point us in the right direction. You would always remind her that learning to love and respect ourselves makes it easier to love and respect others. We just wish you were able to take some of your own advice that morning.

To Danielle, you were her best friend. You never believed in gossip, rumors, or first impressions, but you did believe in equality: a chance to be loved and accepted. You never disregarded a soul – no matter the skin color, monetary status, or physical appearance - and you would bring different groups of people together, always succeeding in creating a good time. You taught everyone a great lesson: nobody is perfect, everyone has flaws, and it can feel like the world doesn't accept you. We must start seeing a person not with our eyes, but with our hearts. Only then will we be able to achieve what you had all these years – unconditional love for everyone.

Finally, to Talia, you were not only an amazing parent, but also the essence of her joy and happiness. Whenever you would pull up to Mom and Dad's driveway, she would sense your presence better than any of their dogs. As you walked through their front door, she would shout your name at the top of her lungs, and run towards you at the speed of light, just to be in your arms. You were so gentle, loving and caring towards her to the point where she grew paranoid of you leaving and never coming back.

Transitioning also shouldn't mean it's a race to get the fastest results, or that you set unrealistic expectations of what you need to look like or who you need to become. You were always good at finding shortcuts within computer programming and networking, but you should have realized that trying to hack your body on your own would have detrimental consequences. In your case, not only did it abruptly cut down your lifespan, it also feels like it shed years off of our own lives, as well.

It seemed to us like you wanted to flick a switch and not only change yourself overnight, but also instantaneously change everyone else's past, present and future thoughts of how they saw and thought of you - but, these things will always take time and lots of patience. Some of us knew you for 30 years, which is a lot of time for our brains to process and build a personal profile of you as the amazing person we knew - so it shouldn't have been a surprise that rewiring our thoughts, memories and even pronouns of you would take some time - regardless of our best intentions. Unfortunately, now we are forced to reprogram ourselves once more to a life where you are not present. Although we will try to be strong, everything seems so different to us and bears less meaning. We know you thought you were doing everyone a favor, but you incidentally achieved the exact opposite - and most likely ended up regretting it when it was too late. We really wish you understood that ahead of time, and we could have worked together, as we frequently have done, on solving any set of problems you faced.

We also wish psychological consultations weren't such a taboo and it would eventually be treated within our society as does any regular medical consultation of any other organ of the human body. It should be universally known that it is okay to speak with people who are trained to listen to you, to pick up on known patterns, and to offer the best advice of how to proceed - advice that very few would intuitively think of and that could have helped save you from experiencing a lot of stress and agony, as well as helped you deal with complex thoughts and emotions in a more rational way. As your family, who loved you so much, we know Simon would never have made these types of reckless decisions, only Samantha would have.

Although, we didn't know you as Sam for too long, we appreciated your many new qualities. We liked that you were even more determined in your achievements - and although at times you were insecure, you quickly became attuned to your new identity. It was like you opened your own personal Pandora's Box and all your suppressed feelings and emotions shone through for the world to see. We really did get to experience a new side of you and we are happy you finally felt comfortable enough to share it with us.

We could only imagine you reading these words and smiling. You continue to consume our emotions and thoughts, and we will keep thinking of the happy times we spent together so your presence within us will never fade away. In life, everyone sometimes feels insignificant and underestimates his or her self-worth - but, we believe that had you been thinking more clearly that morning, you would have never considered entertaining such self-destructive thoughts. Although this message did not reach you in time, it may not be too late for those who are going through similar situations - and hopefully your experience and journey could once again help others as you have done for so many.

You will forever be loved, remembered and missed - we long for the times when we could see you flick your hair and share your countless smiles.

Love always,

Mom & Dad, Donna, Eli, Ezra, Eddie, Jack, Jamie, Karen, Sharon, Danielle and Talia

PS - We are taking it upon ourselves to help you complete your bucket list. We may not fully succeed but we will do our best.