Taking a break from featuring sports in my column this week.

This week has always given me some sort of pause. Which, you’d think with high school playoffs well underway, snow melting (or supposed to be), baseball nearing, etc., things would be the opposite.

The first week of March always concludes for me with the date of March 7. As we in the community know, six years ago on this date we lost four young men in an accident outside of town. Icy conditions took the lives of Tyler Hadley, John Mangen, Payton Adams, and Caleb Quesenberry. Tyler and John were my absolute two best friends. I had connections with Payton in coaching him in summer baseball and meeting him through his brother Kansas.

This time of year I often try to keep myself busy, as I find it very difficult to be alone and in my own thoughts. It is those who have loved and lost that understand it is not “just a day.” March 7 will never be “just a day” to any of us, it will always be a day we lost a son, a brother, a friend, an uncle, etc. The hurt is still there. The deep cut of having somebody taken away from you hits like a ton of bricks. Today and this week, I have never felt the emotional pain I have felt the past few days leading up to it. Grief sucks, but at the same time the tears and sadness, the pain just reaffirms how much they meant to us.

Will it always be there? Will it always hurt? I guess I can’t say. Everybody is different. For some, it’s a painful reminder of what is no longer there. For others, they’ve learned how to take the memories and somehow weave them into their personal lives. Which honestly, I feel I do both of them. It fluctuates. It’s something that is ongoing. You never really move on, you just learn how to accept that your life is changed forever.

The aftershocks of grief are going to happen. That is normal. I try my best to balance between what I hold onto and what I let go. I try to keep what is special and has a sentimental value. There is the constant seesaw battle between being incredibly grateful they were in your life and incredibly hurt that they are gone. That is a battle I struggle with often. I understand death is certain, we can’t do anything about that. We are not in control of some difficult circumstances we face in our lives, but we are responsible for how we respond to them.

If you’re still reading this, chances may be pretty good that you have lost a loved one. I am sorry for your loss, truly sorry. I hope in the stages and development of your grief that in some way, shape, or form you are able to heal your broken heart. We are saying to the world that these people were valuable and that we will never forget them.

I harshly learned that night that we must live life to the fullest. We have to decide what is important to you. Parents, friends, and the community may have different opinions than you, but at the end of the day, you’re the only one who will be around for every moment of your life. Do what is right for you. Take risks. If you don’t you won’t get anywhere in life. I have talked to plenty that have regretted not taking more chances than they did. Tell people you love them, live in the present, don’t compromise your values, be charitable, help others. Be a light in the dark. I could go on and on. At the end of the day, be you.

Lastly, be positive. Ships don’t sink because of the water around them, ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Avoid negativity.