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Shane, you were an inspiration

I did not know Shane Jones, though I wish I had.

It would have been nice to be acquainted with a young man with such strength, courage and maturity. Though he faced a dreaded disease that would have brought the strongest man to his knees, he fought it with all of his heart to the very end. I admire him for that.

For those of you who do not know, Shane died Wednesday after a long battle with Leukemia. He was just 13 years old.

The loss of a child knocks the wind out of most of us, just like an unexpected punch in the gut. When a child's journey in life is cut short, like it was for Shane, there are many of us who question why God would take away such a young soul.

My only answer is this: Shane may be gone from this earth, but in a very real way he still lives on. The way he faced adversity

should be inspiring to us all.

Shane was one of those rare individuals who even if you did not know him, you felt like you did. Just looking at pictures of him at his viewing at Ironton High School Saturday afternoon made me feel as if I knew him all of my life.

Seeing all of his classmates Saturday was very touching, too. It is obvious Shane was a popular, well-liked young man.

Shane was very lucky to have wonderful parents, Shawn and Patty Jones. I was in awe at the way they held their composure Saturday. There are few parents who could endure what they have and have the inner strength to carry on.

Throughout Shane's ordeal, Patty outlined her son's struggles in an online journal. The strength of Shawn and Patty is best described in the following entry, posted early Friday:

"Shane's last request was that we not be sad, not be scared, and please don't cry. I have told this request to everyone and we are all trying. I have done pretty well at this request, but Shaney … I hope that you understand it when Mommy cries from missing you baby. It is not because I didn't want you to go, but only that I miss you. They are also tears of joy … tears celebrating your new perfect body and your no more pain and suffering. I miss you Sweetie … Nite Nite. …"

Here are a few more touching excerpts from the journal:

"As all of you know by now, Shane has made his journey back home where he belongs. He is in a place where there is no pain and

suffering, no sadness, and no grief. Shane is finally at peace and I believe he is making all of heaven smile from ear to ear …"

"Shane was given up to die by the docs over a week ago, and made it way longer than they ever thought possible … all for the benefit of those who loved him. I believe that Shane suffered just a little longer so that everyone who wanted to could say their last goodbyes personally. I also believe in my heart that Shane waited to go until it was easiest on his Mommy.

…"

"Shane lived his life straight forward and never looked back. All who knew him and those who didn't … know that he made an impact on every life that he ever touched. I don't know why God took such a great kid from a place that needs more like him, but I know He must have a good reason. I thank God for every minute that He let me borrow Shane on earth … to have, to hold, to admire, and to learn from. I was truly blessed. …"

(For those of you who would like to view the journal in its entirety, visit http://

caringbridge.org/oh/never_give_up/)

I must admit, reading this journal brought tears to my eyes -- both before and after Shane died. I believe anyone who read this journal got at least a little misty eyed. We're sorry for crying, Shane, but there are times when you just cannot help it.

When someone who has touched as many lives as you have leaves this earth, we have to mourn. In your short 13 years, you inspired, taught us the real meaning of what it takes to be a hero, and exemplified what it means to be brave. If the world had some more people like Shane Jones, it would definitely be a much better place.

Thank you, Shawn and Patty, for raising such a wonderful son. And, thank you for sharing him with us. May God bless you and all of your family.