Yesterday, once I heard the news about Kobe, I was shaken to my core. I cried. Never met him personally. Barely watched him play during his legendary career. There were plenty of times I even rooted against him just because I was bitter that he was so great.
All the same, his untimely and tragic passing brought me to tears. Then I found out his oldest daughter was with him. Then, another family was also with them. A terrible story just kept finding ways to get worse.
My sadness turned to confusion. I typically write off celebrity deaths as just another minor blip in the universe. We didn't know them personally, so let's get back to what we were doing and carry on people. But why was I so broken? All of a sudden, hit by a rush of sadness that brought me to tears on a sidewalk, outside a movie theater. Random "blips" don't do that. So what is it?
I dug deep in my feelings to get some answers to how this relative stranger.
The images of his last moments
It hurts to even write this, but imagining the scene hurts. I wouldn't ever wish that pain on anyone.
The images of his wife and surviving family
My heart hurts most for Kobe's wife and surviving family. I pray for them to make it through what must be the end of the world. Losing a child is one of the worst pains I can ever fathom. Losing a spouse is second. Both at one time can't be described in words. My prayers and love go out to them in this time of need.
The impact he had on everyone
Losing a hero, especially a black one who's been a beacon for so many, hurts. I keep repeating the line from Donald Glover reflecting on Whitney Houston "Damn, we can't even make it to 50?" And again, here we are. Another light turned off before expected. The black community lost a leader, but the NBA lost a legend. NBA stars lost a close friend. He positively impacted so many people to push for their own excellence. Even if you didn't watch basketball, you know your form for shooting paper into the trash was mimicking him. He impacted the world - literally the world and will forever be felt.
Fragility of it all
The scariest thing about all of this is if Kobe isn't safe and guaranteed away from death, what's our luck in life? It's a hard, stabbing reminder that we are all vulnerable.
My recognition of living in fear
When I had no dependents, eventual death was expected and ok. If I died, some people would be hurt, but life would go on. Even my wife would've found a way forward and carried on. But, if I could die and leave my child alone... Shit. Or if my child dies, then what was my responsibility? As the dark thoughts swirled around and made me feel like shrinking even more, I recognized I've been cowering to fear. Becoming a parent means feeling less prepared for death and that fear has been forming a grip around how I live.
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