The National Football League’s 2020 Pro Bowl game was on my TV when news broke of the crash that killed retired basketball Superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and 7 others. What happened over the next few hours was something we don’t witness often, our nation suffering collective grief, like during the Challenger tragedy or 9/11. There were special reports of the tragic crash on all the major broadcast news networks and cable news, thousands of fans began to gather outside “The House That Kobe Built”, LA’s Staple Center and it soon became a worldwide story with fans mourning in the Philippines, where American basketball is big and Italy, where Kobe began to craft his amazing skills. Eventually, TV began broadcasting interviews with fans and it was evident that worldwide, many were hurting over this Superstar’s sudden death.
My wife passed by the TV room throughout the day watching thousands gather, listening to the emotions, the tears and memories being shared and at one point quipped, “If Kobe’s death brings people to realize how fragile life is, then God bless them. It’s about time.” She wasn’t being glib, life has been a bit stressed around here lately because the fragility of life has been a real topic in our house over the past three months.
Last November, an acquaintance messaged me to check on one of my lifelong friends because he heard something may have happened to his son. I reached out within minutes and was shocked to read the words of the return message, “He killed himself over a girl.” I couldn’t take my eyes away. I’d followed my friend on social media and for years have been watching a wonderful dad nurturing his family, his wife, son, and daughter. They always had big smiles, living a good life and everything looked ok, but no one could see the troubling emotions of young love.
My wife and I deal with the fear of out-of-control teen emotions daily. Our youngest is a sophomore and in the throws of a maturing body, mentally, and physically. In the days following this horrific tragedy, my wife and I doubled down on checking with her, making sure she was comfortable at school and liked her classes and teachers. We asked about the relationship with her first crush, which isn’t even at the hand-holding stage. Our assessment was positive.
All you can do is be involved, ask questions and show them how much you love them. I’m sure my friend who lost his son did the same thing, but there are some things one never knows. Life is so fragile.
In December, I received a video message forwarded from a friend., The video was from a former co-worker, a guy who I worked very closely with years ago. With bloodshot eyes and a deeply furrowed brow, he shared the painful details of how the police showed up at his home the previous Saturday to announce his daughter died due to an overdose of heroin. Again, my eyes were transfixed as I watched his mouth move but could barely comprehend the message. It’s not every day someone you care for does a video to share such a tragic moment.
Again, I know this dad, I know how important family is to him and how he works to be a good parent and provider and still, you can never know what’s brewing in the minds of young people. In this case, his daughter was already fighting the most evil of devils, a drug problem.
I’ve explained to my kids that anyone is prone to addiction. One can be addicted to Cheerios, ice cream, potato chips, old movies, writing, scratching, or an old girlfriend. But once you try something that has addictive properties: alcohol, pot, coke, smack – you can lose your life.
All you can do is be involved, ask questions and show them how much you love them, I’m sure my friend who lost his daughter did the same thing, but there are some things one never knows. Life is so fragile.
The calendar turned to January and my daughter’s second semester was moving along smoothly. In her business class, she was happy to be sitting next to one of her new friends, a senior, and although this girl talks a “party hard” game, my daughter thought she was trying to act tough and cool. On Thursday, the young lady told my kid she wasn’t going to be in school Friday. On Saturday, while my daughter was out at the stables, preparing for her weekly horse lesson, she got a call from another girl that her friend from business class had committed suicide the night before.
Aside from the death of her dog three years ago, my daughter had never experienced a loss of someone close and it hit her very hard. Her friend's death was difficult to understand. We spent the week constantly monitoring, sent her to counseling, and hugged her a lot. She attended the viewing of the young girl and her mother held onto Kaycee and didn’t let go. I got the impression her daughter told her mom about my kid.
We explained to Kaycee there should be no judegment because the girl was a minor, no one will ever know exactly what happened so don’t get wrapped up in rumors. But one thing was sure, the mom, who surely loved her child, as only a mother can, would prefer putting her dear daughter to bed that night.
All you can do is show them how much you love them, I’m sure this woman who lost her daughter did the same thing, but there are some things you never know. Life is so fragile.
Kobe’s death and the worldwide outpouring of grief reminds us that we live a very fragile life, a day can move along minute by minute, you can feel the sun shining on your face, be walking your dog, enjoying brunch, watching the Pro Bowl or trying to get your kid to her basketball practice and in the blink of an eye, everything that was normal is replaced with unimaginable upheaval. Live life as fragile as it is, show your love to those you do. Don’t wait.
Until next week,