Painful loss and joyful hope
Life is beautiful when we strive to live a quality life. It may be short but it will be a life of lasting and memorable impact to people. Quality life when confronted by physical absence brought by death will not end in death. It will bear fruit and it will certainly create ripples of goodness.
Kobe Bryant and his daughter with their companions died. It was sudden and unexpected. It brings sorrow. We grieve for the loss of lives. We grieve because of the pain caused by physical loss and the reality of deprivation of having them as humans. The book of Proverbs says it all, “There is a time for everything.”
Bryant and John Denver meaningfully influenced and inspired many people in the fields of sports and music. Now, Kobe must be teaching the saints to dunk and John might have taught the angels to sing folk country.
Basketball is one of my favorite sports but I play just for recreation. In the seminary, I skip evening praise and evening lectures to watch PBA and NBA games. I am just fortunate. I was never caught by my formators.
I am an avid fan of Team Ginebra with Sonny Jaworski as a star even when I was in elementary. I am an avid fan of Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan as an idol. Lakers was my second favorite NBA team with Bryant as hero and favorite player. These players were in my jerseys numbered 7, 23, or 24. My bedroom then was filled with posters of Jordan, Jaworski, and Bryant.
When Jordan retired and Bulls hardly made it again for the finals, my interest in watching NBA games started to wane. I shifted to Lakers where Bryant made fantastic records. I started to admire him and he eventually became my idol. His moves and throws were not only a display of skill but of art.
I recall my admiration that led me to see him as the sole player of Lakers. When he was absent in the team, I did not watch basketball anymore. When Kobe finally retired, I stopped watching NBA games. Maybe, this is the bad side of admiring people so much.
I am saddened when I received a text message about Kobe’s tragic death, along with his daughter and friends. I cried. I may not have met him personally but I was gravely affected. Why? Because Kobe inspired me in the field of sports and morality. He may have not known his influence on me but his goodness affected me for quality outputs, to achieve a dream in full excellence, not simply for compliance. His faith, most especially was venerable. He was rich, famous, and powerful, but he kept anchoring his life to God. Wealth, fame, and power can lead one to forget God but Kobe’s faith in God was constant and abiding.
I was turned off some time ago when I read about his misconduct. He betrayed his wife. But his honesty and capability to seek for forgiveness all the more made me appreciate him. He was true to his longing for forgiveness and repentance that reunited him and his wife and their family. It was gravely embarrassing for him as a famous man to be caught being unfaithful to his wife, but it was also humbling for him as a powerful man to seek forgiveness. He embraced his faith in God, as his strength to stand again, face his mistake, and overcome his human limitation. It was his faith in God that gave him light and direction to once again rebuild himself and boost his moral confidence.
Kobe’s wife and family were indeed forgiving. It was a home where Kobe felt the love of Jesus. I am elated to have learned that during Kobe’s low moments, the church also displayed compassion and hope.
We need tangible models to mature our faith and use our talents well. Kobe’s honesty, humility, responsibility, and his Catholic faith are worthy of emulation.
I feel a bit awkward offering Holy Masses for his eternal repose because he never knew me and we never had any communication, but I trust that God will unveil my admiration to him as a powerful and famous man who remained humble and honest.
I had been praying as well for John Denver’s eternal repose although I was a stranger to him. John was not a stranger to me because his powerful and meaningful songs helped me compose and sing my own songs. At first, I felt awkward to offer mass intentions for him until I got used to doing it. John was a genius and a hero to me in the field of music. He did not teach me personally but I learned many things from his beautiful songs. He was a great musician whose heart and music were dedicated to the care of the environment. Denver had been composing songs and singing about the environment. He had been advancing our respect and care to Mother Earth through music. Thirty-three years since his death, his songs are still alive. John is still alive in his songs and advocacies.
I am a stranger to Kobe and John. They didn’t know me, but I know them through their life and work. They were not personal friends, family members, or relatives yet they were significant in my life. They taught me a lot.
Unfortunately, both idols died in a helicopter and plane crash. They were famous and influential, yet they were not spared from death. These two great men are reminders of the transitoriness and suddenness of life. Kobe was 41; and John was 51 when he died on Oct. 12, 1997. They lived short but quality lives.Their best examples and great advocacies were not buried with them. Their goodness continues to radiate beauty and hope especially in sports, music, and faith. Both artists had foundations supporting noble causes. It is wise to be remembered with good stories than being remembered for evil deeds, greed, and pride.
We pray for Kobe, his daughter, and their companions. We pray for their eternal rest. We pray as well, for John’s eternal repose.
On the other side of painful death is the celebration of life. Despite the pain, life must go on. I celebrated my 47th birthday on Jan. 20 amidst my sorrow for the loss of a great man, Kobe. The people of Sagada celebrated with me as they started their town fiesta with all her barangays, government officials, and many guests.
I am thankful to all those who sent their greeting and all the well-wishers on my birthday. For the gifts and your presence on my day, God bless you a hundredfold. I thank most especially my family for the generosity that we all shared, to my brother priests, and friends, and my parishioners who joined the Thanksgiving Holy Mass.
Reach me at [email protected] or at 0905-165-3669.