So I was thinking about what a lot of us have been thinking about since Sunday: Kobe Bryant and the other lives lost in the helicopter tragedy on 1/26/2020. I know we've all been inundated with news stories, podcast specials, social media posts, etc, and that's one of the reasons I had to go ahead and write. This has been on my mind and heart so heavy, I wouldn't be able to move on like I need to without an outlet to release all these feelings I have. Forgive me if things are all over the place. It has been hard for me to gather my thoughts.
There are several celebrities whose deaths have impacted me and who I have sincerely grieved for; Aaliyah, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, and a few more. It's like I grew up with these people. I listened to their music, watched their movies, saw them on TV, watched interviews, and read articles. Thankfully, I got to see Prince in concert as well. I even remember ministers using some of their songs as titles for their sermons! Until their death, MJ, Prince, and Whitney had been around and heavily visible for my entire life! Aaliyah was just a few months older than me and I followed her career from the beginning. Because of their talent, their status in the entertainment industry, their high profile relationships, and for some, their even higher profile troubles, I knew more about them than some of my family members! Shoot, we have so much celebrity access via various media outlets, they can start to seem like family/friends.
Now, I'm not the biggest sports fan. I mean, it's cool but it isn't my cup of tea like it was in the 90's, especially basketball! I was born and raised in Chicago and grew up during the Jordan era when the Bulls were on fire! I used to actually watch games and not just during the playoffs. I may not have been familiar with their positions, but I knew all the players on The Bulls and many from the other teams. I watched the games when Jordan led Chicago to 6 championships. I remember when Chicago's Kevin Garnett went straight to the NBA from high school. And I remember when Kobe Bryant did the same after him. Like those I mentioned before, it's like I grew up with him! I remember he was a year older than me. I remember he graduated in 1996, and that he took Brandy to prom! After 1998, when The Bulls won their last championship, I didn't watch much basketball, but it didn't matter because Kobe Bryant became a household name. I know he spent his 20 year career with The Lakers and that he became what many consider to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. I didn't keep up with his stats or keep track of the number of championships he led his team to, but I did pay attention to what I saw in the media about his family, I was aware of his various business ventures, I enjoyed various commercials and guest spots, and I did watch his last game before he retired in 2016. I even remember when he tried his hand at rapping...lol...this loss has struck a major cord. I've been legitimately grieving since I heard the news on Sunday.
Before I get into my personal feelings about everything, let me just say this: I already have a love/hate relationship with technology and social media and things like this cause me to lean more toward hate. I keep hearing that families found out by seeing it online like we did. Can you imagine the added devastation?? The other annoyance that comes to the forefront during these times are the folk among us who are extra "woke" and hypercritical. They're quick to spew their disapproval of humans caring for "this" and not for whatever "that" they deem is more important. And why is it okay for us to care about some people we don't know and not others??
Even as I type, I'm still trying to understand and properly articulate why this has hurt me to the extent it has. Maybe it's the nostalgic element. Perhaps it's knowing that he was young, healthy, and doing something that he did often. It's probably because I'm thinking about how close we were in age and this incident has reminded me that of the few certainties we have in life, death is one. We can't control it. We can't predict it. We have no say. When it's our time, it's our time. It's unnerving, but also motivation to live my best life and live, love, and serve like every day is my last. It's possible that this traumatic event pains me to this degree, because my heart is bursting with sympathy and compassion for his wife, his daughters, and the other families of the rest of the passengers who lost their lives on that helicopter. I even think about what their last moments must have been like as they were going down. Did they get to say anything to each other? Did they pray? Cry? Scream? Were they afraid when they realized what was happening? Or did they find their peace? Did they hold hands? Hug? Maybe I've been crying off and on since Sunday, because this freak accident reminds me of my own sudden loss. It'll be 13 years this Sunday, 2/2/2020, since my 19 year old brother died in a car accident as he headed to get a haircut before work; young, healthy, doing what he did often. Both occurrences sparked questions of; Why him? Why now? Why the good people? Both reignited an acute awareness of human mortality and God's sovereignty. Each incident caused me to take inventory of what is really important and shocked me into remembering the insignificance of temporal and petty things. I've also gotten a greater realization that though death is an inevitable part of life, we're still not 100% ready when it hits and the timing or the way in which it happens will not always make sense. I can't control death, but I CAN control how I live my life and how I treat others, so when I leave, it's with few regrets.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die...A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2a, and 4 (KJV)