Kobe Bryant died today sitting next to his daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter on their way to a basketball game he was to coach in Thousand Oaks. It was pretty foggy in LA this morning.

I was never a Kobe guy. Hell, I’ve hated the Lakers for years. But the dude was a multi-generational talent and it couldn’t be denied. I’ll say it this way: If he’d played for the Blazers, I’d have watched a whole shit-ton more basketball. I think a lot of people outside the sports world might be having a tough time understanding why those of us in it are stunned and silent, shaking our heads, not quite sure what happened – but this is so random, so out of the blue, so ignominious of a way for one of the most famous people in the world to die that we’re all reaching for a little bit of ground to grasp while the world whirls around us, myself included. This is the NBA’s Princess Diana.

Kobe had four daughters. I have one. I can only imagine how afraid that teenage girl would have been as she fell to the earth. I can only imagine what went through his mind as he held her closer than he’d ever held her before. Did he tell her it was going to be ok? Did he try to get her to look at his eyes? Did he … Did he… Did he…

As we’re taking off to Cancun, Reza’s sitting to my right, next to the window in a cramped row on a Mexican airline and I thought, “If this is the one, I’m glad she’s with me.”

I know it was selfish. Maybe a part of me should have thought “If this is the one, I wish she wasn’t here.” But I didn’t. I thought, “If this is it, I’ll be with her forever.” She laid her head on my shoulder and fell asleep later. I didn’t move a muscle for 45 minutes.

I’m glad they were together, Kobe and Gianna. I’m glad they had each other in that moment. I couldn’t bear the thought of …

I couldn’t bear it. That’s all.

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I feel like I’ve been rocked beyond consequence in the last three weeks. It’s the last week of January and my entire perspective on who I am and what I’m doing has shifted, catastrophically. I’m going to have to move to support my child. I can feel it. I don’t know that kind of sacrifice. I’ve never had to think about this possibility before and it’s here, quite literally, before I ever had a chance to pre-process the concept.

But I’m starting to see something forming: An idea of correctness. An inkling of hope. A form and function of future happiness that might be possible if I can bend this to my will. All of a sudden, I feel the same warmth that you feel when the wind stops blowing and you walk out from behind the shadow of the building and the sun waves at you and says, “hey, remember me?” Something possible is coming. I can feel that, too.

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So today, after the news, I thought, as a father would, about how he feels about his girl. And we laughed and we giggled and we made jokes, we had dinner after she crossed the line, we played video games and we laughed and we high fived and we were, for a perfect evening, just us.

Reza and her dad. Josh and his daughter. Just as it should be.

____

A day is going to come, Josh Carley, when the warmth you feel right now, the connection, the effortless lift of positive intention and radiant love, will seem distant, unattainable, forever lost. It is not.

Endure. Square your shoulders to that beast and dare it to take you. Do not look back to today and think, “ah, but if I only knew what was coming I would have never have been so …” Remember today and draw strength. Look the thing in the eye and know that whatever it is, it won’t take today from you.

 

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