Life can be unfair, downright cruel sometimes, to the point where you wonder how it all adds up.
Kouts senior soccer star Jordan Greavu was in that place five years ago this month, when cancer claimed his father Bob.
"He was the person I looked up to," Jordan said. "He was like the world to me."
Nine months later, just when Jordan was getting his feet back underneath him, his brother Adam was killed in a car accident. The last words he said to both of them were, "I love you."
Ready or not, the eighth-grade boy realized he had to become a man.
"I pretty much managed by staying strong," Jordan said. "At first, I couldn't believe it happened, but there was nothing I could do. My (other) brother (Derek) had moved out. I realized I had to be the man of the house. I had to be a bigger person, take the place of my dad for my mom."
Time doesn't heal all wounds. The emotions remain just as strong for Lisa, but the pride in her youngest son brings a smile through the misty eyes. Jordan's the spitting image of Bob -- tall, strong, blonde, 'light up the room' smile -- and it’s not just his appearance that reminds his mom of her husband every day.
"I'll watch him and I'm like, 'Oh my God, he's so much like his father,'" Lisa said. "He's my little personality guy. He's got an awesome attitude on life, with what he's been through. He's such a loving boy. I have very strong boys. I'm very lucky. I was a mess and I don't know how I would've gotten by without them. I remember Bob telling them to take care of your mom and I feel like they do. He'd be so proud."
Of many things Jordan learned from his dad, he may have been most profoundly impacted by the quiet courage with which Bob handled his illness.
"He never complained about anything," he said. "It doesn’t help anyone being sad. I always saw how he was and I always try to keep positive."
At Kouts High School, Jordan helps other students who have lost a loved one cope with their difficulty. In addition to soccer, where he broke the school record for goals in a season with 26, he plays drums in the pep band.
"The thing is, if my dad had still been here, I might've followed a basketball path instead of soccer," Jordan said, "Later on, I found out he was a tennis superstar (at Portage), too. He was just very humble. He wasn't cocky, but he was like, 'If you had the skills, you could be confident in yourself', not like, 'Oh, I'm the best,' just confident that you could be the best."
Bob's competitive nature is also evident in his son.
"The words he told me I've lived by in my life -- if you're not first, you're last," Jordan said. "You don't do sports just to have fun. You're in sports to win."
Kouts has done its share of that in Jordan's career, over which he's amassed 64 goals and 72 assists. The Mustangs face Boone Grove in a Class A sectional championship Saturday. Jordan hopes to continue to play in college, where he plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice.
"He compares himself to his father," Lisa said. "Second place isn't an option. That's how his dad was."
For Jordan, there's no greater compliment than being told he's just like his dad.
"He's the man I respected more than any other man," he said. "He gave me discipline. I am the person I am because of him.
"I think he'd be proud."
This column represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.