I hadn’t planned to write a column this week ... and then things changed.
As my daughter innocently turned on the television in search of Red Carpet Grammy fun, things suddenly got a little heavy, as well as unimaginable.
Kobe Bryant and his daughter dead in a helicopter crash.
Irony of course quickly played out as the Grammys were being hosted at Bryant’s home away from home, the Staples Center.
I don’t have a Kobe Bryant story, so for those who shrug the death of a celebrity with the smugness of “he was a person, just like everyone else” – you’re right.
Here’s what caused me to pause, however; life is fragile.
Please read that again, because moments like these are exactly what remind me of the truth in three simple words.
All days are blessings, sometimes we forget that and that’s okay. Sadly or fortunately, depending how you view things moments like these serve as a great reminder.
Yet, the Grammy show did indeed go on, with homage and acknowledgement being paid to the LA Lakers legend and man of class throughout the show.
The next morning, we woke and flipped on the news hoping to hear more on the details of the crash. I mean, when something makes no sense it’s what we do right? We search for details, hoping that someone or something can help us understand why a man at 41 and his daughter, just 13, would be taken with life just beginning – for both of them.
Sadly, there is no making sense of such a great tragedy. I learned this lesson at much too young of an age, in my opinion. Each time something like this occurs, death by accident, I’m reminded of those early lessons.
The death of my first “real” boyfriend days before his high school graduation and that of my best friend, one month shy of her college graduation.
Like Kobe and his daughter, they were both too young. Also like Kobe although too young, they each (oddly enough) were big personalities with kind, loving souls who left an impact on this world.
Oh sure, I know 99.9 percent of the eyes reading this did not know Marty Neswick or Madelyn Hogan or the legacy they each left at the young ages of 18 and 21, respectively – yet a legacy they did leave.
For each of us who knew them either personally or even the acquaintance, through their lives we learned about humor, we learned about kindness and we learned about living fully.
While two very different people, each lived every minute of their very young days. Their deaths (sad and tragic as it sounds) inspired my life to be different each and every day following.
The passing of Madelyn probably prompted this more than any death prior or since. Her death taught me to not hold words, to freely love on those we love and live vulnerably. To not live in fear of the judgement and shallowness of others, ‘those aren’t your people’ she would often say, wiping a tear from my cheek.
Funny, as I type that, I recognize that’s now a piece of a quote which circulates on social media on the semi-regular.
Monday morning as I visited my own social media pages, I was met by many powerful Kobe quotes. Not only was this man a truly gifted athlete, he was a man of great heart and wisdom.
As a journalist my inclination here would be to close this with a brilliant Kobe quote, but I won’t.
Instead I’ll close with a simple yet profound (maybe) thought, drop what you know. Rise up to the hurt, the disappointments, start chipping at the wall that life has built. Live a life of purpose and be okay with being vulnerable.
What purpose you ask? That answer is between you and God (in my belief system).
Perhaps your purpose is smiling at strangers and changing how they look at the day – that seems simple right? Perhaps your purpose is to inspire or befriend youth through your love and passion for a sport. Perhaps your purpose is to believe in those that the world has given up on.
Truthfully, I’m just a simple girl typing words that come to my brain; I don’t know the answer for you specifically. What do I know? What I do know is that every set of eyes reading these words were put here for purpose. Perhaps you know, live it and live it big. For those still wondering, this is your call to action.
Welcome to 2020, welcome to living your life of purpose. The world is waiting, trust me ... they are.
As a humanity, we are a community of people with purpose. For today ... this is mine. Simple girl with simple words.
Thank you each for picking up our paper, flipping through the pages and reading my words. For today, you helped me continue to live my purpose.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.