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Fact: We are never guaranteed tomorrow

February 2, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

It doesn't matter the color of your skin or the color of the jacket you wore to Wednesday night's candlelight vigil at Belleview Park, tears are tears, heartache is heartache, sorrow is sorrow and hugs and prayers are essential.

Lee West, a 15-year-old freshman at Steubenville Big Red High School, died in a house fire Tuesday evening and hundreds gathered at the gazebo at Belleview to honor his life.

Article Photos

CANDLELIGHT VIGIL β€” A candleight vigil was held Wednesday night at the gazebo in Belleview Park for Lee West. West, a 15-year-old freshman at Steubenville High School, died Tuesday in a house fire.
-- Mike Mathison

Leading the way was his mother Cookie.

I have never had the pleasure of meeting Cookie, but I am a fan.

She told the truth with empassioned power.

Cookie told the crowd that she had the pleasure to be Lee's mother.

But, she had an even bigger pleasure knowing that Lee had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and savior and that he was in heaven.

"If you want to see Lee again," she said, "you know where he is. Lee's in heaven and that brings me so much joy. It hurts. I hurt. We all hurt. But, it's going to be OK."

This was a tough night for a lot of teenagers and all of those teenagers must remember the night.

Life is hard.

As bad as things are, life goes on.

The tears eventually fade, but the memories must not.

That family is strong, mainly because they have a rock to lean on. But, this family still needs your prayers.

Pastor Everett Mitchell also spoke to the crowd, filled with teenagers and adults.

"There is unity in this community," he said. "We all feel the same way about Lee. We all hurt. We all have sorrow. Remember that Lee loved the Lord."

Lee was a member of Big Red's freshmen football and basketball teams.

He was a good athlete and told his dad Elmer that he was going to wear No. 10 in football next season and he was "going to be better than Dwight (Macon)."

Apparently that was the confidence Lee had in himself.

He also was humble.

Big Red basketball coach Mike Haney told me after Monday night's game that it was always "yes sir" and "no sir" with Lee.

Elmer said the same thing.

"He even said 'yes sir' in texts," he commented.

"Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry." - Psalm 88:2

Prayers are a must for the family and friends and their lives will never be the same.

Lee will never again ask his mother, father or pastor which portion of scripture he should read.

There are no more late nights studying.

There are no more jaunts through the halls.

There are no more receptions, baskets or home runs.

But, there is his life and how he lived it.

There is his life and how he was a leader.

There is his life and his relationship with God, something that Cookie continued to talk about to the crowd.

"It's OK to hurt. It's OK to cry," she said. "But, you need to get right with God. Right now. You need to say, 'God I love you, do what you need to do in my life.'"

His uncle, Todd Kelley, was also pretty succinct.

"Step forward and walk with him," he said. "You all know what he was about."

Members of the Steubenville Fire Department were on hand showing their support.

This community has proven time and time again that it's not about boundaries, it's not about colors and it's not about rivalries, it's about our kids.

It's about making sure our kids do the right things at all times.

It's about making sure our kids are held accountable for what they do.

It's about making sure our kids understand life.

"Please understand that we are not guaranteed tomorrow," said Cookie.

She's right.

We're not.

Mitchell finished the evening with a prayer:

"God, you have drawn us by your spirit. I pray that you would touch each and every one individually. Make yourself more real in their lives. Comfort every hurting soul, every hurting person. Let them look up to you for their emotional strength, to know God that you are able. That they will come to know Jesus as their Lord. That they would say, 'God, I have to change this. My eyes are open because of this day.'

"Give us strength. Give this community strength. Let this be a new season, a new direction for each and every one of us. We thank you that we are going to be closer to you and better people, not only as individuals, but as a family and as a community.

"We thank you and give you glory in Jesus precious name.

"And we all say, Amen."


On my way back to the office from Belleview, I turned the station to KLOVE, 99.3, and Chris Tomlin came on:

Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now I'm found

Was blind, but now I see

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear

And grace my fears relieved

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed

My chains are gone

I've been set free

My God, my Savior has ransomed me

And like a flood His mercy rains

Unending love, Amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me

His word my hope secures

He will my shield and portion be

As long as life endures

My chains are gone

I've been set free

My God, my Savior has ransomed me

And like a flood His mercy rains

Unending love, Amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow

The sun forbear to shine

But God, Who called me here below

Will be forever mine

Will be forever mine

You are forever mine

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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