It was the year that Lake Wendy at Camp Barney Medintz went dry. I had driven up to CBM with my family for a friend’s Bar Mitzvah weekend. So, too, had Sam Lapidus.
Wendy was off limits. A barren wasteland occupied the area where I had once spent afternoons swimming and kayaking. The floor of what had been Lake Wendy was speckled with plants and unidentified objects. It was as if a giant Meteorite had landed in the middle of my Summer Place. I stared with curiosity as my family and I walked on the path next to what had been a welcoming body of water. I wouldn’t dare venture into something so strange.
The Saturday afternoon of that weekend I was free. My family was off exploring corners of Camp Barney I already knew. I snuck off in pursuit of something different. I found Sam.
I had met Sam over the years on various occasions. Shabbat dinners, camp reunions, our paths had already crossed many times before. None of those occasions had the same impact on me that this encounter would have.
Sam wanted to cross Lake Wendy.
It was crazy. I had never thought to even step foot in that alien wasteland, let alone cross it. But I agreed to go with him.
I’ll never forget walking across Lake Wendy with Sam Lapidus. The red clay and dirt underneath my feet was moist from the water that had previously occupied as it’s cover. sunglasses and other lost items lay next to shrubs and plant life that had emerged from the ground. This otherworldly scene, however, was no longer strange. Sam’s confidence and excitement over the experience put me at ease. There was no hesitation. We were here to experience life.
Sam Lapidus lived everyday as if there was a Lake Wendy to cross. Each day was an opportunity to live, each day was a gift. My experience with Sam changed me. I chose to live as if each day counted. I chose to always cross my Lake Wendys without hesitation, to turn strangeness into adventure and to not just gaze with curiosity but to investigate and experience.
Sam was 14 years old when he passed away after a long battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma. The lives he changed in those four years number in the thousands. All you have to do is visit his Facebook page to discover the impact he had on those he encountered. It has been four years and people post daily about how he changed their lives and provided inspiration and impact that continues to this day. His life is the inspiration to cross your own Lake Wendy. His message was simple. Live. Cross Lake Wendy. Each day is a gift.