One year ago after attending former player Tim Bright’s funeral I found myself writing about the pain that I was feeling and my way of dealing with it. In the book “Winning Was Never the Only Thing…” I wrote, “During a depressing early morning walk after my last visit with Tim. I came to a reality of sorts and found a bit of peace and comfort in a strange, cold and unlikely place…science. There is a scientific law that states “Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Energy can only be changed.” I have taught Conservation of Energy thousands of times, but that morning it became more of an anodyne than just a cold scientific law.

Tim possesses a tremendous positive energy that seems to grow stronger and inspire as his illness has grown stronger. I have no doubt that his energy will continue to live on as his physical existence dims. How can it grow if energy cannot be created? It grows from the love and care displayed by his wife, his family and his friends. It grows from everything that is good and just, and it grows despite his willingness to share it with everyone. I know that he shares it because I can feel it growing in me.

I believe that the trials that Tim is going through are a test. A test that he has to pass to prepare him for something bigger and more important that he must accomplish. I believe he has passed the test with flying colors. I know that I will find comfort every time I walk out and view the heavens in the night sky. I will look for the brightest star in the sky and know that Tim is present. Whether it is in body or in soul, Tim will be with us in our darkest hours “to show us how to live, to teach us how to give and to guide us with the light of love.” (Respects to Alabama)”

It would be less than a week later that my nurse-daughter would call and tearfully let me know that Tim had left us. There has not been a clear star lit evening since that night that I haven’t thought about Tim when I have looked toward the night sky and seen bright stars twinkling. It won’t be long before Orion the Hunter dominates the sky. I remember so many early morning runs during the fall and winter days where I always felt safe as I chased Orion through the still dark skies. I felt protected from the horrors hidden in the dark knowing that Orion was above me. I feel the same now that Tim has joined him.

Tim’s death made me analyze my own beliefs. He made me inspect my religion, not my Christianity, because often Christianity and religion are not same. I had joked about my religion, after all my God is a humorous God, although over the last year it has not been much of a joke. Despite my “dunking” into the Baptist Church, I have tried to apply my beliefs to what I have called the Evolutionary, New Testament Church of Christ, membership of one…me. I am adding “loving” to the title because of Tim and his loving wife Jenny. “The Evolutionary, New Testament, LOVING Church of Christ. During his short life on Earth Jesus Christ both taught and lived his love and this has become a major tenet of my religious beliefs with help from Tim. Tim truly loved his fellow man…and was loved back in kind. Tim lived a life that was too short but it was a life filled with love, both given and received. That love is evident when anyone talks about him including me, his family, community and his friends. I can think of no better epitaph then that he “Loved His Fellow Man.” I pray I can live up to his ideal.

Inevitably when I think of Tim I think of others that have been lost. Two others have joined Tim from the same team, Jeff Gully and Heath Benedict, and recently former Landrum player Brian Kuykendall left us. It is impossible to forget my championship cut-up Michael Douty. There is also the quiet one from Mauldin, Tim Wilder. I know there are others and I don’t want to know who they are. It’s easier just to pretend that they are still out there, just out of touch, just out of reach. It is easy to feel sorrow losing them and I can only imagine the grief their families have gone and are going through. I hope they understand when I say, “I was lucky to have had them as a part of my life even if it was for a short time. I may, at times, cry for them but more than likely their memory will bring a smile to my face and a laugh to my heart as I look into the evening sky and see the brightest, twinkling stars.”

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