The Finality of Death: Reflections from a Mom and Wife
The only thing we are guaranteed in life is death and yet when it comes and steals our loved ones, tragically and unexpectedly, it’s something one is never prepared for. I was sitting in the dining room in the home of a friend when we heard the news about Kobe Bryant. When I first read the news on social media, a part of me thought it was one of those fake memes people post about a celebrity dying. In an era of fake news, and in a time where blogs want to be the first to post rather than getting the complete story, I try not to believe everything I read until it has been confirmed.
As I continued to scroll, I started seeing credible news sources confirm what I originally read. My heart sank. Not because I’m a Kobe fan or even a sports fan, but because I’m human and the news of hearing someone lose their life so suddenly in a helicopter crash is heart wrenching. “This can’t possibly be true”, I said to my girlfriends who were as surprised as I was. As the news reports continued coming in and it was confirmed that at least one of his daughters was with him, it was all a bit too much to digest on a Sunday afternoon.
This shocking tragedy of Vanessa Bryant losing her husband exacerbated what we were all feeling as wives. Imagining what it must be like to lose your spouse isn’t something you ever think about. It isn’t until something like this happens that you find yourself thinking about how your entire world can come crashing down without warning. To lose your spouse/life partner is unimaginable to me, but to lose your husband and your child on the same day is like grasping for air and choking on the realization that they’re gone; it’s a wildfire of unexplainable anguish that you’re unable to put out. It’s a nightmare you can’t wake up from. I cannot begin to comprehend what that must feel like.
It’s been two days, and I still can’t stop thinking about and praying for Vanessa Bryant, her daughters, and the other families who lost loved ones in Sunday’s tragic helicopter crash. In the coming days as Vanessa tries to make sense of this horrific accident she must make arrangements to bury her husband and child while simultaneously comfort her 3 grieving children. One can never understand the magnitude of that duality if we ourselves have never experienced that kind of loss. To bury her husband and daughter is to bury every dream, hope, and vision she had for them; visions of proms, basketball tournaments, high school graduations, and first day of college drop offs that will never take place to visions of growing old with the man she's loved since high school, all moments she will never experience.
These are all things I imagine many of us envision when we think about our children and spouses and yet Vanessa has been robbed of these things. Her future now is uncertain because how does one’s heart keep beating when you’ve lost 2 huge pieces of it? How does one find the will to go on in the midst of such suffering? Everything my faith tells me about suffering is hard to understand at times like these. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it, but my mind doesn’t understand this kind of grief. I don’t think anyone can understand it unless they have experienced it. It’s tragedies like this that give us pause and cause many to ask, God why? We will never know why or ever understand why we are called to endure tragedies such as these.
Vanessa's greatest challenge moving forward is finding the strength to keep living, not just for herself, but for her three other daughters. She has to be the pillar for Bianka, Natalia, and Capri and I wonder if she will ever really be able to mourn losing Kobe and Gigi. The finality of death, especially when it comes by way of a tragedy, has a way of putting things in perspective. Life is fragile and our time here is limited. We always think we have more time. We think we have next month, next week, or even tomorrow. The truth is, all we really have is today, this moment. We have to stop wasting time on things that don’t matter and make the most of today. The only guaranteed day is yesterday and all the days in our past. Tom