I started in the newspaper industry when I was 14 years old, working my way up from walking the publisher's dog to owning a community newspaper in Southern California.
Molly and I owned that paper for seven years. After we sold it, I retreated to Arizona and was fortunate to be hired by a hospice organization as their volunteer coordinator.
During that period of my life, I grew to understand the values of life and death. I also reconfirmed my belief and commitment to a God who sometimes works in mysterious and strange ways.
I worked with many people who were about to go into the sunset of their lives.
I listened to their life stories. I saw in most cases the look of peace and contentment on their faces as they approached their final breath of life.
Although I dealt with some young people, it is still hard to take when a young person, who is just starting to write the book of his life, is taken from us. It is even harder to understand how a parent feels when this happens.
Last week, our community and the family of 14-year-old Jake Hewell went through a gauntlet of emotions - that included shock, sorrow, anger, compassion and finally triumph.
God doesn't share with us his plans. So when Jake, who made his family very proud and who was also an inspiration to his peers, is taken from us suddenly and without warning, it shocks us, it hurts us and we wonder why God would do such a thing.
One thing we have to accept in life is that God has his own plans for his children and that we, as parents and friends, are just the caretakers of his special gift to us.
We love them, we nourish them, we have aspirations and dreams for them, but always we need to understand that God has the overall plan for them.
Jake Hewell was given and possessed many talents that were nurtured by his parents and family. By all accounts and tributes he used those talents to the fullest. He touched people in a way for his young age that will stay forever in the hearts of those he met - including perfect strangers.
His smile was infectious. His personality was the sunshine and the stars.
God had his reasons for taking young Jake home. I believe Jake knew why.
What he left behind for those of us he touched in his short 14 years is more than a lot of folks leave in a lifetime.
The one thing I learned working with hospice patients and their families is that it is OK and All right to grieve. I was one of those people who, after a short time of grieving by a family member or friend, would boldly tell that person who was grieving that it was time for them to get over it. The person whom they were grieving for wouldn't want them to continue on this way.
Even though I did this with the greatest of love and intentions, I was so very wrong.
It is OK to grieve for your loved one for as long as you choose to and for as long as you need to. It's also OK to laugh and think of the special memories that you will always have.
T. Pat Cavanaugh is the general manager of The Covington News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.