The reports on the many television channels spoke of the shock, horror, incredulity, as they reacted to the news of basketball legend, Kobe Bryant’s death. Making it even more heart-breaking was the fact that his daughter Gianna, was also in the helicopter with him and along with the seven other persons who also perished.
The sporting world, indeed, people worldwide were filled with grief and many interviews with friends, relatives, colleagues, even strangers were aired, as they expressed views, shared experiences and revealed things about the star athlete hitherto unknown.
I thought of the other persons in that helicopter, the mother, father and two daughters from one family, a father and daughter from another family and the helicopter pilot himself.
The tragedy did not just take the life of Kobe: it took the lives of others whose families are now facing the challenge of picking up the pieces and moving on without the physical presence of their loved ones.
Death, the inevitable equaliser in this life, is never easy to get accustomed to. Within the last two months or so, the parish of St Anthony in Point Fortin and the parish of the Sacred Heart in La Brea experienced the passing of many of our church family members. Members who were actively involved in parish life, keeping the Church, the Body of Christ here on earth, alive and active in our little space in the Archdiocese.
You see, it really does not matter whether the person was ailing for a while or passed away suddenly, the sense of loss and sadness rips through our hearts sometimes in ways we feel we will never overcome.
So, we come together with the family, relatives and friends and try to comfort and console each other. As we sing in the hymn, ‘Farther Along’, “When death has come and taken our loved ones, it leaves our home so lonely and drear…”
One thing is quite clear, death has no favourites. We are reminded in the letter to the Hebrews, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after death comes the judgement.”
So, whether high profile like Kobe and his daughter, or lesser known like the others who also perished in the tragedy, whether an active member of the parish family or behind the scenes, these words should always be uppermost in our minds. No-one knows the hour or the day of our own demise, and so our lives should be pleasing to God.
Touching and warming the hearts of many Catholics was the fact he attended Holy Mass the morning before his flight. Reports from clergy and laity alike, gave testimony to his commitment to his spiritual life. He lived the faith he professed, marrying and bring up his children in the Catholic faith.
Will that knowledge assist us to do some introspection, reflecting on our relationship with Almighty God and one another? Kobe’s philanthropy is well known, showing the care and concern he had for the youth, and many revelations were made by some of those he assisted in one way or the other, all of this without calling attention to himself or making it into a media frenzy.
Sure, in his humanness he faltered and made mistakes, but the outcome showed that humility and penitence were the attitudes which helped him to move past and move on, attitudes from which we can all learn.