My previous blog post What is the Value of a Life hit home recently when a local high school senior died unexpectedly.
We lost a beautiful life on August 29, 2011: star athlete, high school senior, football team captain, quarterback, son, stepson, brother, cousin, friend, teammate, a young man loved by everyone. Harry Cohen: November 6, 1993 – August 29, 2011.
His untimely passing ripped open the hearts of his family, teammates, friends, and even those who never met him.
Harry was truly a special person. To watch him play football was to watch pure desire to win, pure joy in competition, and a love of life. Quiet, reserved, and humble in life, Harry exploded with energy and competitiveness when he stepped onto a football field.
When tragedy like this strikes, the question most asked is “why”. It doesn’t really matter the cause of death. His family and friends just want to know why… why him… why now… why was such a vibrant, promising young life taken so suddenly? We will never have answers that satisfy such a gaping wound. Faith in God provides the only comfort.
The cause of death was determined to be toxicity from pain medication: Harry took some of his grandmother’s pain pills. He was sore from Friday night’s football game and on Saturday night, unknown to his parents, took the pills before he went to bed. Harry was small, 150lbs, and had virtually no body fat. The pill bottle label read “take 2 pills every 4 hours as needed”. The doctor said for his weight and lack of body fat that ½ to 1 pill could have killed him. What teenager would think that he could be hurt by something his grandmother takes? It was a simple, but fatal mistake.
God gives us freewill, and that means we can change things for the better or worse, for ourselves, and others. A smile can change a stranger’s day and potentially their life… the reverse is true too: a mean or hateful act can ruin someone’s day and potentially their life. There is also free will to just make mistakes in judgment as harry did.
People are quick to acknowledge or believe in God and Angels… but a good percentage of people disavow evil, Satan, and evil spirits. As great as God is, He has not yet eradicated evil. Evil is alive and well and is much more active in our lives than we realize. Evil does not have to be big like the holocaust or a child molester… it can be small things like a mean comment, a mistake, or sickness.
If we’re lucky, we grow old and die of natural causes, something Harry will never get to do. Aging itself is a form evil: I don’t believe aging and sickness are something God created, but rather a product of sin (evil). This is alluded to in Geneses when Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden, and spoken to directly in Romans 5:12.
When a young person is taken from us, I believe that evil is involved. God would not inflict such pain on his people. God knows the pain involved with loosing a child – he sent his only Son to be tortured and brutally murdered for our sins. God treats us as sheep to a shepherd… and shepherds don’t hurt their sheep.
When someone dies, especially a young person, there are always those who say things like “God needed Harry for (insert a variety of things here) and called him home”. I don’t think so. I don’t think for one minute that God took Harry because he needed another star in the sky, or some of the other sugary sweet things I hear people say trying to console grieving parents. There’s not a human being on earth that can say anything to make his parent’s hearts stop hemorrhaging for Harry. Only God can provide that level of healing and comfort.
We’re part of a huge plan, a picture so vast we cannot even begin to fathom its vastness, its hugeness, its greatness. Each of us is a pixel, a dot so small we’re almost undetectable – we can’t see or understand the picture from where we are. We must face the fact that we’ll never know the “why”.
Regardless of what took Harry from us, we can rest assured in the knowledge that God welcomed Harry into Heaven with open arms.
God will have the last word and show His Presence and Power in whatever rises from Harry’s passing. God can take the most hopeless situation and create good from it… a lot of good… an amazing amount of good. Harry has touched lives and changed hearts in his life and in his passing: I pray the changes last. As one of the ministers said during his funeral, “this is a life NOT wasted”.
Harry’s last game, Friday August 26, 2011 was the game of his life. He rushed for 258 yards, he passed for 108 yards, he scored 1 touchdown, and he set a school record for total yards in a game of 366. I heard someone say he played like God was showing him off. Perhaps God was indeed showing him off. It was a fitting exit for Harry, whose heart was bigger than he was and whose smile lit up a room (or stadium).
Below Video Highlights and Photos from Harry’s Last Game on 8/26/2011:
Does any of this comfort his grieving parents, siblings, and teammates who are walking around lost in a fog? The only source of comfort is in knowing that this life is temporary and that we will see Harry again. We will see his big smile again.
A drop of time
A flash of light
A silence so loud it hurts
A loud cord
A single note
A fading echo
An infinite abyss so near
Until next time,