Life is precious and those who love us and support us through our journey are precious.
I’ve worked as a community newspaper journalist for 40 years now. Early on I worked at a weekly newspaper where you contribute all types of stories. I was working toward just sports but since I love telling people’s stories I was fine with the workload.
For most of those 40 years, I’ve written this column on the sports pages of the three newspapers I’ve been employed to ply my trade. This is a sports column but today, I’m going to step away for a bit for a personal message.
On Sept. 4, 1976, my life was forever altered. I was shaken to the core of my being. As a Christian, I only questioned my faith once since being baptized at age 9 and accepting Jesus Christ as my savior.
The death of my youngest brother, Mike, at the age of 13 was a blow. The month of September was rocked for me from that day forth and 23 years later even more with the death of my mother. So please pardon me if I might be a bit moody or not respond as quick to a greeting. I don’t mean to be rude.
Why do bad things happen to good people? I’ve fallen back on my faith and in the words of the strongest person I’ve ever known — my late mother. I know we are not guaranteed the next second, the next minute, the next hour, the next day or the next year. We have to live for now and love for now.
I was home for Labor Day Weekend as a sophomore at Kansas State University. My older brother Monte was about to leave for the U.S. Army bootcamp the next week. Jeff, my younger brother, was a senior in high school and Mike was an eighth-grader. Stephanie, our younger sister, was a fourth-grader.
My parents and I left the house Saturday to help with judging of 4-H project books. The brothers three were getting ready to go to dinner and a movie. We didn’t have many guns in our home, and we never allowed a loaded gun in the house. One was brought in that weekend.
Jeff and Mike were playing around. Jeff picked up Monte’s rifle and pulled the trigger, killing Mike.
Why did this happen to my brothers — to my family? We are a Christian family — a happy family. God was there to protect us, right?
Mike was such a gentle soul. Jeff would give a caterpillar the right away on a path. How could God allow this to happen?
Sitting under a star-filled sky on Sunday night with her arm around me, Mom calmed me. Mom was our family’s rock. First, she had me choose the brightest star in the sky.
“See, Mike is right there watching us. He is always with us,” Mom said. “God needed Mike home for something special.”
Following our conversation and prayers, I felt a calm come over my heart and soul. It still hurt so much to have lost my brother and watch our family go through it all, but I knew God would help us heal.
My answer to the age-old question is this:
God calls people home to remind us how fragile we are and how special life is here on earth. We can take no one for granted. Hold on to each other and cherish each and every moment together. Make memories, laugh and cry together and know how special each one of you are to the others.
Mom died on her parents’ birthday — Sept. 18 and yes, my grandfather and grandmother shared a birthday but were three years apart. Mom’s birthday is Sept. 22. Mom, her parents and Mike are all in heaven watching over me.
My Christian faith because of my family is strong and thriving. May God bless you and bring peace to your hearts and souls.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at