Grief

When Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, I was 16 years old. In the time after that, I saw how much people grieved although I couldn’t quite understand why. It’s not like people really knew her. She was basically a celebrity. How could you feel grief for someone you hadn’t ever met or really even known?

Last Sunday, at 11:32 am, I received a text from my mom in our family group chat that said “Breaking news. Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident. Not 100% confirmed yet.”

I could feel the chills immediately take over my body. I did what I normally do when I hear a big piece of news. I start researching to find out if it’s true and what sources it came from. Obviously, there have been hoaxes before and I was hoping this was just another one. But as the day went on, the news was confirmed.

We were completely immersed in our personal family events that day so I didn’t really have time to process what had happened. The more we learned though, the more real it became. And when I went home that evening and finally had a quiet moment to myself, I felt it.

I don’t quite understand why I felt grief. I didn’t know Kobe Bryant other than he played for my absolutely favorite team on the planet. I never met him. I’m not very star stuck and am not really interested in meeting celebrities in general. With all of the drama and problems that Kobe had gone through and with the ego he had on him, I honestly didn’t really care to meet him.

So why? Why did I feel this way?

The best answer I can give is because we grew up together. I watched the Lakers from when I was a child but the Showtime era started before I was old enough to be a fan. I remember hearing about Magic Johnson’s HIV announcement and all of the questions that came with it at the time. I remember Johnson making a comeback and getting cut while playing and all of the players freaking out because he was bleeding on the court.

But Kobe, he came to the Lakers right after high school. Being only 3 years younger meant I was also in high school. I watched him learn how to play NBA basketball. I criticized what I thought were his stupid decisions (like marrying Vanessa at the age of 23 and having the power struggle with Shaq and Phil). I wondered as he went through his sexual assault case, wanting to defend him because he was a Laker but knowing full well that it was possible that he wasn’t innocent and that I would always side with the victim. I judged how long he stayed in the league and how he was drawing all resources to himself so we couldn’t put a decent team on the floor to win 3 more championships.

Then, he retired. I can honestly say I didn’t follow him so much after he was off the court as I did when he was on the court. I didn’t even know he made a movie until he won as Oscar. But when he did win it, I was proud like it was my friend that had won.

He was like that friend that you don’t see often or even talk to often, but when you do, it’s like nothing has ever changed. He would always be a part of our lives because he was a Laker. He was part of the purple and gold that runs in the undercurrents of Los Angeles.

It’s complicated. I know there are things he’s done that were wrong but I also believe that he learned how to change for the better. The more I learn about him now, the more I believe he might be someone I would have wanted to meet as an adult. He had drive, passion, and ambition. He was doing exactly what we all do with our kids every day, take them to their extracurricular activities and watch and support them.

The only way I can describe what I feel is grief. Grief over seeing someone I grew up with gone. Grief over seeing someone who was finding his new path gone. Grief over someone who had changed the history of our city gone.

I still have trouble believing it. I don’t know if I ever will.

It’s Okay To Let Go

Today, I saw this article about letting go of toxic people to make room for more positivity in your life. It reminded me of all of the people I have slowly been walking away from because they aren’t good for me.

Let’s be honest. For me, it basically came down to unfriending them on Facebook. The fact that they were toxic already meant we weren’t socializing or in touch at all. But seeing their lives on Facebook just kept me connected to them. When I did have to deal with them in person, it┬ájust drove home the point that we weren’t meant to be friends.

It’s a difficult thing to do. Some of the people I have walked away from share so much history with me. There are friends I have had growing up, people on dance teams, old relationships, former best friends. How do you just let go of 10 plus years of friendship? How do you let go people who were there for you in the most difficult times? How do you walk away from people who were there through sweat, blood, and tears? And what happens that these are the people who become toxic?

I honestly believe a lot of it happened because I changed. I learned who I was and because I embraced that part of myself, it changed the relationship I had with whichever person was now toxic. Some friendships have the capability of adapting. But some definitely don’t. And when you believe you are making a change for the better, you can either trust yourself and those who support you or you can view yourself from an outside point of view that makes you feel less than you should. In my opinion, no one should ever make you feel that way.

If you are also Indian, you know that walking away from someone doesn’t mean you won’t ever see them again. Sometimes, I wish it did but let’s face it. We are all 2 degrees of separation from each other. Inevitably, we will run into someone who we have decided isn’t good for us. And we have to learn how to deal with it.

It’s also difficult to see everyone else’s lives go on without you because you chose to walk away. I see groups I used to be a part of living their lives and celebrating events, only now I am on the outside. It would be so easy to find a way back into the groups but I also know it wouldn’t be good for me to be around those people. Sometimes, it does suck to be on the outside.

This is the hard part for me. I would love people to see what I see and “be on my side” about the toxic person. Then, I have to remind myself that just because someone isn’t good for me doesn’t mean that person isn’t good for someone else. And honestly, I can see where I might be toxic for other people. So I have to learn to let it be because everyone has the right to live the way he or she wants as well and I walk away, unfriend, or shield myself from them.

All I can do is what is best for my life and keep positive, supportive people around my family.