gratitude-a-thon day 2088: the yin & yang



The yin and the yang of life. Oh boy.

on Sunday right before going to a party, I heard about Kobe Bryant’s death. I am not a rabid sports fan like the rest of my family, but of course, I knew who Kobe was. After all, he was Kobe. Normally in tragedies like this, I glue myself to the tv and watch every morsel of news, grieving with the anchors and collective watchers and trying to make sense of a senseless event. But I was walking out the door.

Almost a year ago, an incredible boy and neighbor my son grew up with, Sam was in an accident skiing and lost the use of his legs. Our community came together to offer money, meals, and support. It was my great pleasure to cook and help organize the meals. In the process of doing so, I got to know Sam’s mom, Abby, who I’d really only known in passing and fell in love with her (she’s wickedly smart and funny–all the things I love in a friend)! This is a story for another time, about how people who might think they know each other but really don’t, and first impressions that are wrong impressions and how we are all more alike than different and that sometimes if you look closely, a tragedy has a few teeny tiny slivers of awesomeness.

Anyway, the party was part housewarming (they’d just renovated an apartment for Sam and his amazing roommate Ben) and a thank you for all the help from friends and neighbors during their emotionally demanding and transitional year. It was also the first time I would see Sam and I was nervous I would cry, which is not what I wanted to do, but I was afraid my body would just do it, because sometimes my emotions live a completely separate life from the rest of me and act like they are starring in a telenovela.

Anyway, I saw Sam and I didn’t feel like crying at all. I think it was his comfort that made me feel comfortable and I saw (not that I haven’t been following along on his progress–biking, wheelchair racing, and skiing, back to work, and life) that he was fine, I mean as fine as you can be when you’ve had a transition as big as the one he’s experienced in the last year (actually I think, much finer than anybody would be, but this is the Sam effect, which speaks to who this boy has always been–extraordinary in every way–exceptionally smart, stupendously athletic, and ridiculously handsome). Anyway, the place was buzzing with our community. There were loads of people eating, drinking and catching up with one another. It was downright festive. And I stood back at one point and felt crazy happy for this family to have this, after watching them have such a challenging year. It was a gorgeous moment.

Kobe Bryant dropped out of the sky at 41 and lost his life on Sunday, while at the same time, Sam and his family were celebrating a hard-won victory. The yin and the yang. This is life, all day, every day. The good, the bad and the hideous all happening simultaneously. I notice. I notice how life is uncertain and certain and ugly and beautiful all. And I don’t really understand any of it, but I’m grateful to be in the midst of it and noticing. Noticing with gratitude.

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