As the news of Kobe Bryant’s death spread yesterday, the reaction from social media to my family’s living room was actually quite similar. Shock. Surprise. Sadness. The loss of any person to tragic circumstances is hard. Even when they are not well know. But there is something about the death of a person whose name many recognize that makes it more shocking. There is the feeling that there was something of us in them. That is why there is something else we mourn when a hero dies.
I am not a basketball fan. So, I don’t have much to say about the accolades that Kobe Bryant earned during his career in the National Basketball Association. He has been lauded as one of the greatest of his generation to play the game. Maybe one of the best ever. I will leave that determination to those who know better.
In total, there were nine individuals who perished in the crash. While accidents happen all of the time, when a famous person dies, something happens to the collective consciousness of those who recognize the name. The more recognizable the name, the greater the shock. There is something within us that struggles to let go of the ideas and images of the famous. Their legend possesses an immortality that far exceeds the truth: Famous people die too.
All who bear the mark of the human image must live under the weight of our finitude. We all have an expiration date. We just don’t know when that will be. I think this is what shocks us most.
As a pastor, there were two aspects of these events that cause my heart to grieve. Both of which have to do with the fact I am a father.
Reports indicate that the helicopter was heading to a basketball game for one of his daughters. I can only imagine the joy he had in being able to participate in this moment. To have a child who enjoyed the very game you gave so much of your life to. And to be able to share in it with them. It is a beautiful testament to the great responsibility we who are parents feel for our children. I grieve for his other children who will grow up without the love of their father. I grieve for all the other children who lost parents in the crash as well.
Second, I grieve for the loss of the children in the crash. No parent should bury their child. That is not the way it should happen. But, we live in a world where it does. I don’t know how I would feel if that were my story. I’m not sure anyone really does. I know I looked at my children and was thankful for one more day with them. And that is something we all should do when things like this happen.
Every loss is an opportunity to remember what we still have. The greater the loss, the greater the opportunity. It may not happen in the moment, but I hope and pray that eventually, we can look and see that we are more blessed than we ever thought in spite of the loss or the pain.
I will pray for the families of all who lost a loved one in the crash yesterday. I pray that the love of God find them and comfort them in this time of mourning.