This morning, I was driving Youngest Master Weisman to a school event and while preparing to make a left turn, a car coming the opposite direction sped through the red light. I shuddered. And once again, I thought, “that’s how quickly it can happen.”
About five miles outside of Palmdale on Highway 14, while I was going 72 miles per hour, I cut my speed rapidly as two people ran across the entire highway to help another car that had been in an accident.
A mile later, we saw another accident on the side of the road, a minivan with its left side smashed.
Less than a mile later, on the southbound highway, a massive accident. One car was upside down. Another crushed. The entire highway was closed.
I had never seen so many separate, serious accidents in such a short stretch in fair weather.
That’s how quickly it can happen.
About 10 minutes after I made it back home, I went on Twitter and saw the very first tweet about Kobe Bryant, from TMZ. Since then, I have seen reports that he has lost his daughter, almost the exact same age as my youngest son, and that another parent and daughter died as well, as well as I presume the pilot. (Update: It has since been reported that nine people perished in all.)
Bryant’s career was so epic in scope and length that it bridged the time from when I was a diehard Laker fan to a casual one who narrowed his sports interests down considerably. I can remember when I was on a once-in-a-lifetime trip with my Dad to Alaska, and we sat in some dive restaurant watching a small TV over a bar as Bryant in his rookie year heaved airballs in a desperate attempt to save the Lakers’ season — and still being convinced of his greatness. It was that feeling that compelled me to watch his final game, long after my passion for his day-to-day exploits declined. He thrived for years, for decades, and I’m floored, as so many of you are, that his fire has been extinguished so soon. I don’t want to understate the sickening feeling that came over me when the news broke.
But father and child. Father and child.
It comes at a time in the life of my family that this fear is particularly acute.
The advice we always get: “Tell someone you love them today.” I tell everyone in my family I love them every day. It’s still not enough.
How do we bear it? I spend a great deal of my life trying to intellectualize how vulnerable we are at any moment to a tragedy that will derail that life completely, so that the reality isn’t incapacitating. I’m not sure there’s any other choice. But nothing prepares you.
We still have to live, somehow. It’s not enough to tell someone you love them. You have to be grateful, every single day. You have to somehow treat every day as a gift, knowing full well how much of an existential, incomprehensible punishment it will feel like when your loved one is gone. You still somehow have to be grateful.
My heart and deepest sympathies go out to Vanessa Bryant and her family and friends, and equally so to those of the other victims in this tragedy.