Thomas Knox,

Thomas Knox,

Last Saturday night in Ohio, before she tucked him in for the night, Lisa Knox’s 14-year-old recounted the story of his best hockey game ever, a game he’d played just hours before. A forward for his high school team, the St. Charles Preparatory School’s Junior Varsity team, Thomas Knox had been on fire, scoring two goals in the second of two tournament games he’d played that day. The first game, at 8:15 a.m., was a 3-1 loss, but the second, 13 hours later at 9:30 p.m, was a 2-1 win. The two goals that Thomas scored put his team into the third-place slot in their bracket, which guaranteed at least another game – and perhaps a second – on Sunday.

His mom listened to his recap of the games, tucked him in to bed and kissed him on the cheek. She never expected that her boy wouldn’t wake up the next morning, but he didn’t.

Thomas Knox died in his sleep.

Dublin tournament

Adam Allgeyer Memorial Showcase varsity tournament in Dublin, Ohio

Thomas’ last hockey game was played in a varsity tournament in memory of Adam Allgeyer, a hockey player who died in a car accident in 2001 when he was just 16. The Dublin, Ohio tournament has been an annual event every since, to promote the spirit of team, his memory, and his love of the game of hockey. Adam had played for the Dublin Coffman Varsity Team – who ended up winning the Sunday morning matchup against the St. Charles team because of forfeit: on learning of their teammate’s passing, the St. Charles team was, of course, unable to play.

Thomas’ family says they didn’t see him involved in any aggressive plays on the ice, and an autopsy has been ordered. His brother, Justin, released a statement to the media that talked about Thomas being a boy with a heart of gold, a quick wit. He loved going to Ohio State Buckeye football, and Columbus Blue Jackets hockey games. And you could tell he loved – and was loved by – his family. Justin’s statement included this heartbreaking sentence:

With Thomas’ passing we remind others that his life is one to be cherished.

And that’s really the key, isn’t it, that life is to be cherished?

On the tournament website, Adam Allgeyer’s father wrote an introduction, giving reasons for the tournament, and the loss of his son:

Since that day, I have learned how important our relationships are, friends, family, siblings, teammates, acquaintances.  We are so important to each other.  We really are made up of little pieces of our relationships.  All of our interactions become a real part of us and remain such our entire lives.

Perhaps we’ll never know why a great, active boy like Thomas Knox went to bed on Saturday night and never woke up in the morning. But both Thomas and Adam’s untimely deaths are certainly a giant reminder to all of us that life is a gift, it’s precious, and no one knows when the clock will run out.

Take a step back and look at how you cherish your children, the children they play with, and the people around them. If you look hard enough, you should be able to see that what is really important has nothing to do with whether a team wins, or loses, ice time, whiffed pucks, shots let in, offsides, referees’ or coaches’ decisions. It has to do with you, the influence you have on your children, your ability to make them leaders, thinkers and confident, compassionate people.

Live each day like it’s your last. For you, and your children.