Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Sadness on Christmas Eve

It's just short of four o'clock in the morning on Christmas Eve, and tears are running down my cheeks.

I know that what I do - the personal sacrifices I make for abused and neglected children that I assist in East Tennessee - is a worthwhile cause.  It's sometimes difficult, often emotionally draining, and, on rare occasions, tragic.  Folks in my position often work without much fanfare, as juvenile courts are closed to the general public in Tennessee.  Our rewards are often in the relationships with the children, but that comes at a grand price of the one resource that we cannot replenish - time.

And it's that which has me saddened right now.  Because, in my haste to do so much for so many, I missed out on something that I never should have.

A friend, competitor, and all around fantastic human being tragically passed away at the age of 37.  And I just found out.

Jamie Broach and I were friendly rivals back in high school.  Jamie played for Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, while I captained the tennis team for Sullivan East.  We both played on an all-star team that Bristol's Bob Helton put together that played (and beat) the local colleges.  As time went on, Jamie and I became friends, and, while we really wanted to beat the tar out of each other on the court, we respected each other - both athletically and personally - so that we were still friends afterwards.  For a kid as competitive as I was, this was a rare thing, indeed.

Jamie went on to play at Division III powerhouse Trinity in Texas.  He was more than successful there, both athletically and academically, and then went on to earn his MBA at Texas (the "fake UT") and went on to a successful career as an investment banker.  It looked like Jamie's life was in all ways perfect.

I lost contact with Jamie for a few years as I grew busier and busier with my law practice.  Then, a couple of years ago, I found out that my old friend had been diagnosed with brain cancer.  The kind that doesn't inspire hope in oncologists.  This husband and father of three boys was given a very short time to live.

But what I drew strength from - still draw strength from - is what Jamie then did.  He threw everything he had into charitable giving.  He established a foundation that has raised millions for brain cancer research in Texas.  He fought this horrible disease all the way to the end.  That end came a few months ago.  And, apparently, I was too busy to have recognized it.

Jamie was one of the best men I have ever known; he was a better man than me.  His faith in his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, did not waiver.  He wrote to his sons:

"You are never too young (or old) to have a relationship with Christ; Don't be overly focused on worldly treasures and accomplishments - you don't get to keep them in heaven; Everyone sins, but you need to ask for forgiveness; And always remember you can't earn your way into heaven, it's an incredible gift from God."

This is supposed to be such a happy day.  A day that my boys have been looking forward to as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  And Jamie, the eternal optimist, would not want anyone mourning him ever, much less on the eve of Christ's birth.  But this is a tough way to begin, because it reveals a few things that I have been worried about - that life is passing me by.  And I see the same thing happening to so many of my friends and colleagues that I am not the only one who can learn from this tragic circumstance.

Finally, as we enter the end of this tax year, if you find yourself looking for a charity to support, consider The Broach Foundation for Brain Cancer Research.  Thank you, and have a Merry Christmas as you cherish this time with your loved ones.

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