Grief is a weird thing. Last Sunday, I was on my way to my friend’s baby’s christening when my sister left a message in our family group chat asking if Kobe Bryant had truly died. My first instinct was nope! He’s not dead, it’s not on CNN or any major news outlet it’s just a hoax and I put it out of my mind. Literally a few minutes later the CNN notification popped up on my phone that Kobe died when his helicopter crashed. My heart was slamming against my rib cage, my throat was dry and I was horrified. My uber guy was trying to keep it together but he was sniffing and saying: not Kobe, please Lord not Kobe. I arrived at my destination and I just sat in the car confused. After what seemed like an eternity, the Uber guy was like well, Gigi will play. I know she will carry on her father’s legacy. I murmured my agreement and got out of the car.
I was just about to attempt to find solace in that statement when my phone beeped again. Gigi had died with her father along with seven others including a father, mother and their child. The pain raced through me like a tsunami and I was so confused. I managed to make it to the christening but really all I wanted was to go to my house and cry. My friend called me and she was crying, she didn’t know what to do. None of us did. I was genuinely heartbroken I don’t even have the words to express it.
The funny thing is that I don’t watch basketball. I am a soccer fan through and through. Other than a few clips here and there I barely even watched Kobe or knew much about his career. I knew him more as a doting father to his beautiful girls and a man who truly loved and was about his family. I’ll be honest and admit that I didn’t necessarily have any feelings or devotion to him while he lived, so I couldn’t for the life of me explain why his death was making me want to fall on my face and cry.
My imagination went into overdrive, I couldn’t sleep. I kept picturing how scared they must have been when they knew they were going down. I imagined Kobe holding Gianna and telling her not to worry because it would be over soon. I couldn’t stop imagining what their last thoughts would have been and the pain and the horror. It was just too cruel, so unimaginable. Too much. My thoughts were all over the place. That morning Kobe’s wife was a wife and mother of four and by night fall she was a widow and a single mother of three. It didn’t make sense to me, didn’t add up. I thought about the Altobelli family, mother, father and daughter gone, poof! Just like smoke. Sigh
I didn’t know what to do with the mad grief that I was feeling. I didn’t know my heart could ache so badly for people I didn’t even know. I was in pain and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t look at Instagram without seeing Kobe and Gigi’s smiling faces. I could only imagine the horror Vanessa and her girls would be facing, their youngest daughter won’t even remember her dad. I thought about it until it wore me out and I had to give it to God because I couldn’t do it anymore.
I had a very honest talk with God, I told Him I was hurt and mad at this tragedy, I placed Kobe’s family and all the other families who were hurting in His care. I gave it all to Him and I thanked Him because regardless of whatever happens, He is still God and He is still good. I wish I could say that I am happy now and grief free. I’m not, not even remotely but I am walking through it and here’s what I’ve learned:
- Grief is complicated. It is perfectly normal to feel grief and hurt and mourn someone you never even knew. This was important to me because I thought I was going crazy. I was crying so hard and I wanted so badly to stop but then I realized that maybe this tragedy triggered the memories of my lost loved ones especially those that died tragically and suddenly so it finally made sense to me.
-Unplug. I had to log off from Instagram for a few days because I couldn’t take the pain that seeing Kobe and Gigi all over my timeline was causing me. The unplugging was quite helpful.
- It’s okay to allow yourself to feel. I spent days asking myself why I was mourning Kobe. There were no answers and so I just allowed myself to feel it, the anger, the despair and the horror. Some days I’m okay, but sometimes I might be eating or laughing or about to sleep and from no where it would hit me again like damn! Kobe really died and he’s never coming back. Oh God!.
This tragic event has put my life into stark perspective. All the problems I thought I had seem so irrelevant now. Life is short, as clichè as it sounds, It is. We should all live while we’re alive because life will go on, it doesn’t and will not stop for anyone, it didn’t stop for Kobe, the clock didn’t miss a beat, it just kept going. This grief will fade eventually but it will join the list of all the other tragedies I have endured. One more scar on my heart but that’s okay. I’ll keep going. God is still God and He is still good.
“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.“ -José N. Harris