I do not have anything amazingly thoughtful to say today. No coherent message to help anyone heal. No insightful story to inspire peace of mind. No anecdote that brings levity to a day so many are hurting.
It’s been a year since Kobe and Gianna, John and Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan left us. A year that, even without their passing, was one of the most difficult any of us have had to navigate. A pandemic. Protests for equality amid police brutality. A bitter election that only amplified a growing divide.
It’s been a year of mourning. Of grieving. For so many, but especially for the families and friends of those who suffered tragedy a year ago; for those who knew them best. Their pain is different than mine. I’m an outsider here, regardless of how much Kobe meant to me.
I’ve lost people I love. My dad died 4 and a half years ago, checking into the hospital for issues with his blood thinners and never checking out after a pancreatic cancer discovery and compounding issues stemming from his heart and kidneys proved too much to overcome. Two years later, I lost my only sibling and brother to cancer too. He was diagnosed less than six months after my dad passed and fought for 20 months before his body was simply too ravaged by the disease to fight any longer. Nearly a year ago, right after Valentine’s Day, we lost my father-in-law to long standing heart issues that could no longer be beaten back by treatments and medications.
So, on a baseline level, I know what a day like today can inspire. The reflecting. The pain. The remembering of the moment where the person you loved so much transitioned from here to no longer.
There’s an inescapable tugging that happens to you, pulling you into your own mind. The things that you wish you would have said or done differently or, somtimes, just said or done at all when that person was still here. The guilt that comes with it. The little things that meant so much that only existed between you and that person that make you smile. The happiness that briefly floats over you, knowing that you had that connection that no one else shared. The drifting between these two — and countless other — frames of mind as you live and relive moments like a slideshow that only your eyes can see.
What a day like today also reminds me of, however, is that those things are not limited to today — even if today they seem more intense. They’ve been happening. Often. Early on it was daily, for weeks straight. Sometimes randomly when you were doing something totally unrelated to anything about that person. Maybe a song came on. Maybe you passed by a certain restaurant or a cafe while walking or driving. Maybe you saw a flower or a bird or smelled a whiff of food or cologne or perfume or a random show came up on your tv guide while you were scrolling to find the next thing to occupy you.
The human mind is weird, but so powerful that way. Utterly transporting you to a place that is so distant but so right now at the same time. And suddenly you’re right back in it. Remembering. Just remembering. Because that’s all that’s left now. Memories.
I cannot speak for what others can or should do on a day like this. Whatever works best for you, really. Some might distract themselves from the hurt. Some might embrace it all. Others will fall somewhere into the vast middle, oscilating between both poles as they just try to get through. There is no right or wrong way to feel pain, after all.
For me, I must say, I’m thinking of my dad. And my brother. And my father-in-law. My mother. My brother’s wife. Their children. My mother-in-law. My wife. Her siblings. Myself. Yeah, I’m thinking of myself too. How I will manage. How I will stay strong.
And, of course, I’m thinking about Kobe. This day, especially. That’s how it works. It’s been one year and in some ways it still doesn’t feel real. And then, I realize that all we have now are memories of what was and it hits again. So, I try to think of the good times and I listen to others tell their stories. I click on the next article or profile and take joy in the uniqueness of all those others who had their own connection, big or small, that was theirs alone.
And then I recognize that those are really all of ours. Because they help me, too. They help me appreciate. They help me heal. And they help me remember. On this day, and every other day too.