The Kobe tragedy is still sticking with me even days later. It's not because I grew up watching that Lakers team. It's not because I was the Shaq to my point-guard's Kobe in middle school basketball. It's not because of Kobe's complicated persona. It's not because it's been plastered all over social media. It's sticking with me because of the universal truth it reveals about humanity: we are all one breath away from a tragedy.
Though a helicopter ride is out of most of our realms of perspective, the underlying purpose of their being on the helicopter transcends all walks of life. That helicopter ride is our commute to work. That helicopter ride is our "quick" trip to the store. That helicopter ride is our "be right there."
I can almost guarantee Kobe, Gigi, and the rest of the victims had plans for supper that night. It's those plans that shake me to my core because those are the ones we take for granted. It's gut-wrenching to think of who Gigi and Alyssa Altobelli could have become in their adult lives. But, for me, it's almost more agonizing to think about who they'd be today, just 4 days later. Would they be planning their next haircuts? Would they be dreading their mom's lasagna for the night? Would they be complaining about their English essay? It's "easy" to mourn a brilliant future that was cut too short because of tragedy. However, I'd imagine the survivors who are left picking up the pieces of a tragedy miss the day to day aspects the most - the singing together to favorite songs in the car, the helping with homework, the everybody sitting around the table for dinner, the "how was school today," even the little squabbles that eventually become inside jokes as children get bigger.
That helicopter ride, though grand to us, set in motion a new, more painful, normal for so many different people, and yet, it likely began in such a mundane way. There might have been a, "Hey, honey, can you grab some frozen peas for dinner tonight?" There might have been a quick rush out of the house without a kiss because they were running late. There might have been an, "I'll see you later tonight. Don't forget to pick up the dog from the groomer." Most tragedies begin the same way - unremarkable.
The Kobe tragedy is sticking with me because it reminds me that I, and my loved ones, were given a gift today and every minute we get after. Immediately after a tragedy like this, we all tend to take stock of our blessings, and we spend a period of time being extraordinarily grateful. Inevitably, though, I will again get irritated because no one can put their socks in the hamper. I'll get frustrated because we eat the same 5 dinners on rotation. I'll become overwhelmed rushing from work, to dance, to all the responsibilities of home. However, I think the Kobe tragedy is going to change one major way I look at my life. It is going to be a reminder that every, "I'll see you later," states a promise that none of us are sure we can keep. And every, "How was your day," is a gift I've been given with the people I love, and I'm going to make sure I'm mentally present every time I and the people I care about are around to answer it.