Sometimes when a person passes away one knows, it's tough even though they might not be family.
Such was the case for me on Wednesday evening when I found out 1988 Wirt County High School graduate Kevin Sees' battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease or ALS, was finally over.
Although I can't say I was buddy-buddy with Sees, being from a small place like Elizabeth we had a few good times together and he was someone I always admired as an athlete when I was young and growing up.
The same can be said for Sees' first cousin Richard Cale, who is the pastor at Willow Island Baptist Church in Pleasants County.
"That's the thing, being that I was three years younger than Kevin, in high school I always looked up to him because he was not only my cousin, but a good athlete and he had a lot of success in football and basketball and they had some pretty good baseball teams," Cale said.
"I always looked up to Kevin as far as athletics go. I wanted to kind of get to that level in my life. The whole process, it's been very difficult. I still remember the day like it was yesterday when Kevin was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease."
Thinking about Kevin Sees to me, there's always one moment I remember more than anything when it came to his athletic career and that's when he booted what looked like the game-winning field goal against Matewan in the opening round of the 1987 Class A football playoffs, only to have the green Tigers come back and score a touchdown with about 30 seconds left to go.
"Whenever I'm with these guys (ex-players) that one comes up quite a bit," said former Wirt County head football coach Mike Lucas. "Kevin never got too much up or down.
He was always even-keeled and handled himself really well. He could do a lot of things."
No one knows that better than former Tiger hoops coach Roy Alltop.
"Wow, he was everything to me," Alltop stated.
"He helped us get our program started up here in Wirt County. It just tears me up knowing that he was in that situation. I had a lot of really good players and I can't take anything away from any of them.
"Kevin was the nearest thing I ever had to a coach on the floor. He was just amazing. He was thinking the same thing I was thinking and sometimes even before me. We was so wrapped up in it all."
Having been diagnosed with ALS back in July of 2009, there's no question Sees put up quite a fight to the very end in trying everything in his power to win a war against a disease that doesn't have winners.
However, that's not necessarily true because Sees was a winner even though he succumbed to the same fate Gehrig did long ago and countless others will until a cure is ultimately found.
"I look at things a little different from a standpoint of getting saved being a pastor now. There's kind of a blessing in there," said Cale, who remembers a conversation he tried to have with Kevin and his wife Katrina not long after finding out his cousin had ALS. "When I visited I was trying to talk to him about the Lord.
"Katrina was grinning and Kevin told me he got saved. Bob Watkins was the one who led him to the Lord. Through all of this, the hardest thing for me is knowing what the outcome was going to be, but also through it all knowing that Kevin got saved because of a result of it."
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org