‘A time to cry; a time to laugh; a time to grieve’

Parents lost a son. Siblings lost a brother. Friends lost one of their own.

Hillsboro lost a 16-year-old student, who also was known as an athlete and actor.

The news that Demarius Cox died while attending a church camp last month in Colorado came as a shock and gave the community a real gut check.

Many people commented on social media and throughout the community on what a great smile and gentle personality Demarius had.

Of course, words are never adequate in times like these. One can only imagine the sadness and loss the family has to endure.

For the living, life goes on. Give the community credit for showing a lot of love and support for the family. But the community can’t do what it most wants — turn the clock back and bring Demarius back to life.

Even though I didn’t personally know Demarius, the loss of his life reminded me of what I wrote in Sideline Slants nearly 20 years ago. My friend and fellow basketball official Jerry May suddenly collapsed and died on a basketball court at Goddard High School between the varsity girls and boys basketball games.

I had talked to Jerry earlier that day. It wasn’t unusual for us to visit at the start of a day. We usually called each other at least once a week during the basketball season. Those were good times filled with great memories.

I suspect the same can be said for close friends of Demarius and his family. They’ll recall the times he was happy and in good spirits. They’ll remember the many good times they had together.

Having a young person die at a church camp is surreal. Church camps are a time for teens to grow closer to God and to each other. Grieving isn’t usually part of the deal.

Perhaps that’s one reason why the news of Demarius’ death came as such a shock to those at camp and for those back home.

My friend Jerry May died at the age of 46. It’s not easy to deal with the loss of a friend, especially when you don’t have the chance to say goodbye and say “thank you.” It’s particularly difficult when that friend dies prematurely.

As I lay in bed that night about 20 years ago, a tear rolled down my cheek. Going to sleep was going to be difficult.

I managed to get to sleep the night I learned of Jerry’s death, but during the night I woke up when I heard our young son, Ryan, crying in the next room. I walked in and asked him if he was having a bad dream. He nodded. I said, “Me too.”

I’m admittedly not very good at dealing with the loss of a good friend.

Time, they say, helps heal our wounds. While healing comes, one never forgets.

In fact, we never really want to or need to forget. I had the honor of wearing Jerry’s officiating jacket to games for several years after he died. It regularly reminded me of how blessed I was to have Jerry as a friend, and how each day of life is a blessing.

Many games have been played since Jerry died.

The games continued, as they should. Life goes on.

For those of us who knew Jerry well, officiating wasn’t ever the same.

I’m counting my blessings though, because I’m a better person for having known Jerry, and he was a good friend.

Maybe as time passes, friends and family of Demarius will be able to reflect with fond memories of the times they were able to play together and laugh together. But they likely won’t ever forget, nor should they. Death is hard. It reminds us of our own mortality. Life, as we know it, is never the same. It is a reminder though, that every day is a gift from God.

In the Bible, Solomon said it well when he said, “There is a right time for everything: A time to be born, a time to die; a time to cry; a time to laugh; a time to grieve.”

I believe what Solomon said. I also know it still hurts.