Kobe.

I wasn’t going to write anything. To be quite frank, I don’t really know where this bit of writing is going to take me. All I know is, I’m devastated. And for some reason, I couldn’t escape trying to reason through everything with the written word. I know that that is a fruitless endeavor in the long run. But for a moment it brings some solace and sense to an otherwise senseless situation.

Yesterday, I was woken up from an afternoon nap by a text from one of my friends that simply stated, “Kobe died???” At first, along with everyone else in the world, no doubt, I thought it was a joke. He had to be kidding. In retrospect, that would a pretty terrible joke. But at the time, it seemed so outlandish it had to be a hoax. No way Kobe was dead. And then the news stories starting hitting every media outlet. Report after report verified the story. Sources upon sources confirmed that it was Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter that were among the several lives that were lost in a tragic helicopter crash Sunday afternoon, January 26, 2020.

It left me speechless. Shocked. Stunned.

Not, necessarily, at the prospect of death but of the suddenness of it all. In the aftermath, I made the comment to one of my friends that this development was, perhaps, the least likely piece of news anyone expected to read that day. Who would have ever thought that Kobe would have passed away not even four years after his last game of professional basketball, let alone in a catastrophic accident like this? Life is here. And then, suddenly, it’s over.

I am not going to hallow the death of Kobe Bryant by trying to put his NBA career into perspective. His place among the pantheon of professional basketball players is a well-worn argument that needs no audience here. (Plus, there are several othermore capable folksto do that.) Neither, though, do I wish to sermonize Kobe’s passing. The preacher in me, perhaps, would like to implement this into a sermon. But that, too, is unnecessary, in my estimation.

I’m just deeply saddened by this story.

I guess I am more sensitive to this story since it comes on the heels of a church member who also passed away suddenly. She wasn’t supposed to lose her life last week. She was just supposed to go in for a “routine” heart operation that would allow the physicians more flexibility when operating on her knee later on. But the surgeons encountered complications during the heart procedure and she never made it to the recovery room.

Kobe wasn’t supposed to die. But he did. And one day, so will you. Life is sudden. It can change on a dime. It can be completely rejiggered with a single text. A new normal might be required after one phone call, all of which reminds of life’s transience and suddenness. It’s is here. And then it’s not. But thankfully, the I Am is for us. And he is never not for us. He is never not with us. He always is.