Sunday, June 1, 2014


Sam's favorite move was How To Train Your Dragon. He was, like most fans, waiting anxiously for the second film to be released. These things take time...

When your kid has cancer, these things become important. People pull in favors. People make phone calls. And people do amazing things.

Back in the fall, Dean DeBlois, the director and writer of the How To Train Your Dragon movies, got in touch with us through some really lovely connections.

Some plans were made.
But it didn't quite pan out the way we'd hoped before Sam died.

Then Dean made a remarkable and generous offer -- a preview screening of HTTYD2 for us with a special dedication to Sammy. We were so incredibly touched and it was so bittersweet -- to know that we would see this movie that Sam really wanted to see....and to know that he would not. Ever.

Yet we gathered together at the movie theater.
We sent out some invitations, in a relatively helter-skelter fashion.
We tried to make it about the kids, about Sammy's friends who really and truly should never ever have had to attend a funeral.

(A brief side note: I've never "run" a private showing before. It's not like a regular movie, obviously. By starting the film manually, the manager gave me a few moments to address the crowd. With a roomful of his favorite people, Solly was not intimidated by having his mom hush the group. As soon as I got everyone quiet, Solly shouted "Mommy! Sit down and stop talking! The movie is going to start any minute!" Oh how he makes us laugh...)

The movie opened with a very special dedication card which read:

Dedicated to the memory of
Sammy Sommer
whose enthusiasm and courage inspired all of us at Dreamworks

This was met by tears and applause. The love in the room was palpable as we settled in to watch the sequel to Sam's favorite film.

The movie absolutely did not disappoint us.
Without revealing any spoilers or any details about the film, let me just say this:

Sammy would have totally approved.

And his only question would have been: when's the next one coming out?

Thank you so much to Dean, to his whole team, to everyone at Dreamworks who made it possible, and to our friends who made the connections possible. In the midst of our continued sadness, this gave us the opportunity to be together, to share something that he would have loved, and to honor his memory in a really special way. We are immensely grateful.

Sammy dressed as a dragon
For his fifth birthday, Sam had a Dragons and Dinosaurs Party
Just to show you how much he loved dragons....yes, we made him this cake. 


  1. I'm awestruck.. What a wonderful gift to all of Sammy's loved ones & friends - such a special way to honor him! And bless Solly for his comic relief!

  2. thank you for continuing to share these heartwarming/heartbreaking snippets of your lives

  3. It was honored to be a part of the special day!! :) XOXO

    Bradley Jody Sam Hannah and Byron
    The Egel Nest

  4. Thank you Phyllis for sharing this day with us. I can only imagine the bittersweetness of the whole experience. Now I have to go out and see the first one!
    Jan Mahler

  5. Dear Rabbi Phyllis,
    I haven't responded to your blogs in a while. I had to focus on a great gift from Judi and her brothers Daniel and Joe. They made me a magnificent birthday party at Greek town for my 70th year young birthday. It was the most beautiful time of my entire life. I felt like Cinderella.
    From Thursday, May 22, when Joe surprised me with tickets to Cats at the Marriott Lincolnshire, until Monday when Joe and Daniel took me to the plane back to Louisville, it was one big party filled with love from my children. Daniel and I even made time to visit with Judi, Harold, Sammie, Debbie, Matthew and Max. It was perfect.
    Now I am home again. I have chemo this Wednesday. It's very hard to get started on the chemo again. I loved feeling like me for a while!!!!!
    I just read the blog about your Sammie 's love of Dragons. Maybe you can make time to read dragon books to children who are in shelters or hospitals who would love the stories that Sammie loved. It would be a blessing if you could bring his happy times to other children who need a laugh.
    I think of you and Rabbi Michael, Solly, Yael and David very often. I hope that I soon hear of more funny moments like Solly telling you to sit down because you were holding up the movie😊😊😊😊
    Be happy soon.
    I love you,
    Grandma Joan

  6. Two thumbs up! Sammy can train my dragon anytime! I am definitely still learning from him, every time you write.