On Sunday our world stopped in the face of tragedy. News of Kobe Bryant’s untimely death started to spread on news outlets and social media, followed by the news that his teenage daughter, Gianna, and seven other precious lives had been cut short as well. As more details of the helicopter crash surfaced, the outpouring of grief, love, and reflection began.
Many times, tragic circumstances are enough to unite us, despite what usually divides us. Suddenly, sports alliances, politics, money, religion, and race are not a priority. We are all hurting. We are all just humans trying to understand, trying to cope, trying to do what we can.
I do not personally know the Bryant, Altobelli, Mauser, Chester, or Zobayan families. However, I feel bonded to them at this time through our collective grief over this deep loss. We cry and lament for these families we do not know out of compassion for humanity.
Death is ugly. But the humanity that follows is beautiful and moving.
Friends and colleagues sent heartfelt tributes to the victims’ families at the Grammys on Sunday. Celebrities and athletes took to social media to express their condolences and disbelief. NBA players intentionally let the shot clock expire for 24-second violations, honoring the number 24 that Kobe Bryant wore for much of his career. Fans spontaneously gathered outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles where Kobe played during his time in the NBA.
Tears were shared, hugs were passed around, and kindness was on display. How different would the world look if these values were practiced no matter the present circumstances?
With our defenses and agendas down, we are able to love the way we always should.
The events that unfolded yesterday resurfaced feelings of grief from tragedies I have faced in my life. I called my mom with nothing really to say except, “I feel sad today. I wanted to hear your voice.” Perhaps you remembered your losses as well. Death shakes us and wakes us up in a powerful way. We feel how small we are. We are reminded of how fragile life is.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. Life does not provide a dress rehearsal. This is it. This is the time we are given. Live your life! Mend that broken relationship. Set boundaries with that toxic person. Follow your calling. Be brave enough to experience your passions fully. Do not hold back. Hold your people close. Savor the gifts you have been given. Pay your gifts forward. Invest in what is important, and leave behind what is not bearing fruit in your life.
You are valued, and we need you.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to grieve the tragic losses of these nine lives. What will you take away from this tragedy? The best way to honor these lives is to do our part to make the world a better place. Let’s be light in the midst of darkness.