The greatest warrior I have ever known...the toughest fighter who ever walked on this earth...the person with the most positive attitude I have ever witnessed, has fallen. Kennedy Elizabeth Griffith passed away this morning at the age of 16. Most of us are very familiar with her story. Kennedy suffered from a rare form of cancer for four agonizing years. There were so many trips to Houston, Texas for treatments...so many you could hardly keep track. There was hope, then a setback. Then, hope again before word would come that the cancer had returned in another part of her frail body. Kennedy would lose a leg in her fight against this silent killer, as well as part of a lung; yet she still fought, still had hope.
The fight has mercifully ended for Kennedy. There is no more pain or suffering, no more setbacks. She is in heaven now with her Savior and her Heavenly Father. The reunion going on now with family members and friends, who went before her, is more joyous than anything we could possibly imagine.
All along we have asked this question - why? Why would God allow this to happen to such a smart, sweet child? Many years ago, I learned that to have faith meant to have complete faith. Trust in God no matter what happens or how bad things seem. God had a reason to allow Kennedy to have cancer, He had a reason to allow her suffering, and He has a reason to allow her family to stay behind and deal with her passing. She had complete faith in Him all along, and now she is basking in His brilliance.
I have always been a very spiritual person; much more spiritual than religious. I’ve been that way since I was old enough to remember anything at all. And my total and complete faith in God has been my rock. No matter how bad things seemed, no matter how unthinkable they became, I knew ultimately things would be okay. I’m hoping for Kennedy’s family, friends, and everyone else, to grasp that same sense of faith, that same sense of eternal security to help them deal with this.
Parents are not supposed to outlive their children or grandchildren. That goes against the law of nature. But, it happens. It happened last week in Newtown, Connecticut as a lone gunman strolled into the Sandy Hook Elementary school and before he took his own life, he took twenty-seven others, including twenty small children.
“A loving God wouldn’t allow that to happen,” is something I have heard more than once. And I have no answer to that statement, other than to just have faith. Someday, we will have an answer and we will understand it. Until then, we simply must put our trust in Him.
Kennedy knew that I loved her because I told her. Her dad Mark and mother Pam also know that I love them, as well as Tonie and Wayne, her grandparents. I have prayed almost daily for healing, strength, and courage and I will continue to pray for the same things for her wonderful family. When doctors first sent Kennedy home, the family was told to celebrate her sixteenth birthday soon, because she may not live until her birthday in October. They celebrated twice. She was with them much longer than was expected.
With the Christmas Holidays fast approaching, give your children and grandchildren an extra hug and kiss, and say a prayer of thanksgiving. Most of us are blessed beyond belief. Mark and Pam, you too have been blessed; blessed with having a fabulous daughter, who meant so much to so many. And I believe with all my heart, that Kennedy too is blessed. She now has an opportunity to help care for twenty little angels who have been waiting on her to get to Heaven.
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).