There's something to be said about old-fashioned family values.
This sentiment seems to have all but vanished in our fact-paced, high-tech, never-stop lifestyles. Rarely do families sit around the dinner table, enjoying a meal and good company. Instead, most run hither and yon, passing like ships in the night.
This nostalgia flooded me Thursday night when Kevin and Stacy White welcomed me into their home near Huttonsville.
In my 22-plus year career in the newspaper business, I have had to write a lot of difficult stories. Some were based on corruption, others on difficult decisions made by public entities. The majority, though, have centered around the untimely passing of someone young - someone with so much life left to live.
The White family lost their son, Dustin, last year in a stabbing at a Tygarts Valley High School football game. Today marks the one-year anniversary of that tragic event.
In an effort to ensure that no one forgot this terrible incident and to pay homage to Dustin, I contacted the family to inquire about sitting down with them to reflect on their son's short, but impactful-life.
Both Kevin and Stacy welcomed me into their home with open arms, freely sharing a myriad of memories about their late son.
Often times with tears in his eyes, Kevin fondly reminisced about his fallen son and all the good times the family had - together.
The Whites shared with me stories of their meager lifestyle and their other children and extended family.
Material possessions aside, the Whites are perhaps one of the most wealthy families I have ever met.
Material goods often are not what provides the most enjoyment in life. The true measure of wealth and happiness is the people who surround you - something the Whites know all too well.
There isn't a day that passes that Kevin or Stacy do not think of their son and the profound affect he had on not only their lives, but also the lives of countless friends and family members. As Kevin said, Dustin truely never knew a stranger.
From typical teenage boy shenanigans to Dustin's passion for hunting and fishing, a void has been opened in an area family and, indeed, an entire community.
Events like this are not suppose to happen in such a small, close-knit town.
The fact is, though, a tragedy has occurred and it is one we all should learn from.
Kevin's parting words to me were that Dustin was well missed.
Indeed he is, by not only his family, but by an entire community.
Although I do not have children of my own and can not fathom dealing with a devastating loss such as this, the White's story should serve as a reminder to us all to cherish what we have.
- Contact Matthew Burdette at 304-636-2121, ext. 120 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at IM_Burdette.