Just one day after the Princess Dianaesque death of Kobe Bryant, Lebron James posted this on his Instagram feed: Literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have.
On the day before Kobe’s death, Lebron beat Kobe’s record for all-time best scoring and Kobe tweeted out his congratulations. It’s difficult to magnify the enormity of such a tragedy as the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his young daughter and seven other people, yet this final public exchange of love and good will between the two superstars pierces the heart just a little more sharply.
It’s an inevitability that everything you do, pleasant or unpleasant, happens only a finite number of times and you’ll rarely know when the last time occurs. Had Lebron known in advance this was to be his last exchange with his friend and mentor before Kobe’s helicopter went down, would it have made the situation any more poignant?
The final anything holds a special place of honor and sometimes, like in the case of a terminal illness, you do get an inkling of the preciousness of a repetitive mundane activity and do note the finite nature of the activity. My children’s father suffered from non-Hodgkins lymphoma at a time when the disease was almost always incurable. I’d gotten it into my head that it was important we travel to Israel as a family during his lifetime and when my synagogue sponsored a family-friendly trip to Israel I talked my husband into going. With the exception of the Rabbi and his wife’s new baby, our children were the youngest set of children on the trip. For much of the trip, I piggyback carried our four-year-old son all over the country, up and down steep uneven streets, around archeological and religious sites of great importance, through open-air markets and busy cosmopolitan cities all under a very hot Israeli sun.
That was probably the last time I ever picked up and carried one of my children anywhere. Perhaps because of my husband’s prognosis, even while I was struggling and sweating, I could feel the sweet finiteness of hauling our boy around. But today as I answer emails, run errands, take my morning walk, it’s almost impossible not to ignore the possibility that there are no guarantees that I will perform these activities again tomorrow. Even the mundane and boring will one day cease to exist for all of us. The only way to not take daily life for granted is with intention and a focus on the present.