On Hope, Life, and Grief

Life is an interesting cocktail of the good and the bad. I always like to remind myself of this fact.

I was settling in after Church on Sunday, relaxing with an old episode of one of my favorite shows, when I glanced at my phone and saw the headline. The headline that read, Kobe Bryant, legendary basketball player dies in helicopter crash. I thought to myself, the person I think is Kobe Bryant is probably not this person who just passed. I wanted to continue my show when I read a line immediately below that said, he was 41. It confirmed my fears, that it was indeed Kobe Bryant.

He was 41.

There is a conflicting feeling when a famous person dies. When you feel an overwhelming grief, you may need to remind yourself that you don't really have the authority to mourn this person; to grieve. You are  probably thinking you should devote all that energy into thinking about and praying for his family and friends. Except, that's not completely true. You, too can be sad when someone you liked (even if you don't know them) passed away. You can also send your thoughts and prayers to his loved ones. Those things are not mutually exclusive. This is especially true for his diehard fans and people whose lives were truly impacted by him. But then there are people like me. I don't think I have watched up to an hour of any sports combined all my life. I don't do sports at all. I knew of Kobe Bryant, but I did not know him that well. I never ever watched a single game of his. I'm not even sure I know what he sounds like. Yet, I was sad.

I was confused too.

I did not understand how someone that probably had plans for today, someone that literally tweeted a few hours before, someone that probably had plans for next year could just... die, so suddenly.

I kept thinking, how could someone who worked so hard; I mean, all that grind, all that hustle, all of it gone in one afternoon on a ride that is normally so uneventful. There is a video trending from 2018 where he explains why he always takes helicopters. He said, LA traffic is insane and getting his kids from point A to B, picking them up after school, and spending valuable time with them mattered to him. Therefore, it made more sense to hop on helicopters to commute across the city instead of wasting time in traffic. Time. Kids. It's the struggle everyone has. How to make sure this world is all the more comfortable, better, convenient for their children. Like many fathers, he was devoted to his children even right up till his death.

The major thing this reveals is the uncertainty and fleeting nature of life. And it is that uncertainty a lot of us just can't deal with. Since retiring a few years ago, Kobe Bryant has gone on to win an Oscar in a category that no black man (person?) ever won. He just was the kind of person to be the best at whatever he did. And just like that. At 41. Just 41. But death is the ultimate equalizer. Even the world's best, undefeated, MVP, invincible...even Black Mamba can be defeated by death.

While still reeling in my unauthorized grief, I stumbled on a video of Pastor Tony Evans honoring the life and legacy of his amazing and extraordinary wife, Lois Evans, after her passing a few weeks ago. He reminded me of something that struck a chord when I first heard it years ago. We tend to judge how old a person is by their birthdate when we really should be judging by their death day. If a person is 50 and they will die at 60, then they are really old. But if a person is 50 and will die at 100, well then they are really young. But the mystery of life is that we don't know. We just don't know.
It is this mysterious and sudden nature of death that baffles us to our core.

It is why we are so shaken that someone can leave home for a quick trip to support his daughter and then never return.

It is true that death is certain for every one of us. But sometimes, there is an added cruelty to it that punches even the toughest of us in the gut. And nothing epitomizes that kind of cruelty than the fact that his 13 year old daughter, basketball maven herself, baby Mamba, Mambacita, his legacy, was also in the helicopter that crashed. That, I don't and will never comprehend. That two of her teammates, possibly around the same age as she was, were in the helicopter. That her teammates' parents, one couple who left behind older kids, were in the helicopter. That another mom was in the helicopter. That all those lives perished in one fatal swoop characterizes a fragility of life too much for many people to comprehend.

In another video just less than 48 hours after Kobe's passing, Charlamagne da god was clearly perplexed and devastated when he asked TD Jakes, that, how do we continue to believe in a God that allows this kind of tragedy? How do we move on from this type of pain. TD Jakes' response reminds me how truly profound that man is. He said, we don't. We can't. We don't move on from this kind of pain. We just learn to survive. We can't explain the unexplainable. It is our faith in these times that allow us to survive. It is exactly because of our faith and belief in God that we can survive this. And yes that faith and doubt can coexist. I feel like this is the video everyone needs to watch in these difficult times.

Interestingly, that we all feel so affected; that we are all so terribly sad; and that the world mourns reflect two things [among others]. One is that 41 may be young, but it was more than enough for the Black Mamba to have such a long-lasting impact and meaningful legacy. The second is the connectivity of us all, as human beings. It's painful that such a tragic experience reinforces this. But it's also beautiful that we can all think of the Bryants, the Altobellis, the Chesters, and the Zobayans. That we can all, one way or another, share in their grief and hope for their fortitude.

I can't even think about the unimaginable pain Vanessa Bryant is in. Her husband and her daughter passed away on the same day. This is not something I wish my worst enemy, if I had one. The pain and the grief across board is heartbreaking. And I think people are allowed to actively feel bad. To grieve. To mourn. To be existential. To cry. To wallow.


In the grand scheme of things, it makes everything else so...tiny. So insignificant. So inconsequential. The petty annoyances. The fights. The struggle. It's like yuck, they never even matter in the end. Blegh.  As a Christian, our eternal hope is that in the end we would have fought the good fight. We would have run the race. Even if you're not a Christian, there is some version of this that is true for you. As Pastor Evans said, you better make sure the fight you fought is the good fight. You better make sure you ran the race that was worth it. In the end, when you say, I have fought the good fight, you want to look back and be certain it was not stupid, nonsensical fights. That when it mattered, when it had to do with your wellbeing, with impacting lives, with your kids, with love, that you fought. That it was worth it.

In the wake of this kind of tragedy, we [rightfully] tend to remember that we need to act right; to be kind; to live fully; to relax; to not be so uptight because all is vanity; because this life is awfully meaningless.  But so often, we are always quick to return to status quo where we forget life is temporary and fleeting and meaningless; we are so quick to return to the rat race.

I hope that this time around, we take a minute to remember the things and people that are truly worth fighting for. I hope we take time to smell the roses. I hope we take the time to give flowers [not necessarily literally, more figuratively. But literally is fine too!] to people while they are alive. And to love. And to cherish. And to, no matter what, never stop hoping.

Love, and some hope,



  1. aww, thank you so much for your kind words.

  2. "In the grand scheme of things, it makes everything else so...tiny. So insignificant. So inconsequential. The petty annoyances. The fights. The struggle. It's like yuck, they never even matter in the end."

    This life enh..... *sigh*
    As we yorubas say Bintin l'aye!"
    There are so many scriptures in proverbs that reminds us of our mortality. I pray we have the insight to focus on eternal things.