This column is normally written from the place that makes me feel the most safe and secure; my bedroom.

Once or twice a year, this changes due to being out of town. This is one of those weeks. I am writing this from the 14th floor of a condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in Panama City Beach, Florida. Some refer to this place as the “Red Neck Riviera” due to its’ party town reputation. Maybe it is everything it’s known for. That’s just as well as I will fit in perfectly. Regardless of what it is or what it isn’t, the sand is white, and the water is blue. It’s a beautiful sight to wake up to. There is something peaceful about a place where the ocean meets the sand.

When I’m lucky, the subject or subjects I write about are people and places I know well. It makes it easier to find the words as I draw off my fading memories. The older I get, the foggier things become. This week, and for the past several days, something has been on my mind that I can’t escape. It’s clear to me that this is what I must write about. If things follow the normal pattern, once this is written, I will put it out of my mind. Unfortunately, many of my subjects will continue to live with the reality of their situation long after this piece is forgotten.

I have known Rusty and Kay Sims for many years. They have been very active members of North Canton Baptist Church for as long as I can remember. This is the place where we came to know one another. I remember their grown children, Chelsea and Seth, when they were just kids sitting in their parents’ lap. What I don’t know is how I would classify our relationship. Although I respect them for their lives inside and outside the church, we have never been close. I’m not sure they would call me a friend. We don’t talk or text. We don’t socialize. However, we would certainly speak and shake hands if the opportunity presented itself. The term acquaintance might fit. But that seems cold and distant. One thing I do know is that we have a common goal in reaching a higher pinnacle when this life is over. Most importantly, we believe in the One that has made that possible.

A few days ago, this beautiful family experienced something none of us ever want to happen. Chelsea and her husband, Jason Leming, lost one of their young children to some serious medical issues. Colton Cash Leming was only six months old when he answered a call that each of us will answer when our time comes. I never had the pleasure of meeting Colton. However, I did see pictures of him on social media. He was always smiling and had the most beautiful smile. I had no idea he was sick. I saw Deputy Coroner Sally Sims the day he passed. She wasn’t her normal bubbly self. When asked why, she said we lost a six-month-old child today. Later in the day, I saw Vicki Snow of Northside Cherokee and ask her how her days was. She started crying and said we lost a six-month-old child today. It was later that I found out who Colton was.

Colton’s passing affected a lot of people. No one more so than his Mama and Daddy. But it’s been Russell and Kay who have been on my mind. I can’t imagine losing a child or a grandchild. I can’t imagine standing by and watching my child have to say goodbye to their child. The hurt must be almost unbearable. Without God, it would be unbearable. If I know one thing, this family knows God and I feel sure He is comforting them through this. When a child dies, the world changes. Oftentimes, we want to ask why? The righteous will be quick to say, “Don’t question God. It’s a sin.” Ignore them. Asking why is human and not questioning God. It’s merely seeking His wisdom in times of trouble. Unlike the righteous, God has compassion and understands our pain even when we don’t.

Life isn’t fair. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. Maybe that’s what this is. Or maybe God just needed a beautiful baby boy in His kingdom. Either way, whatever the Sims family considers our relationship, they have my prayers. Rest peacefully Colton.

Chris Collett is a longtime resident of Cherokee County.

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