Happy New Year to you. Happy birthday to me. This past Sunday was supposed to be a day of celebration. I was visiting family and friends in Sacramento for Lunar New Year and my belated birthday when I heard the shocking news — the death of nine people I had never met, yet whose passing had a profound effect on me.
My phone had rung and I answered it saying, “Happy New Year, Mom!” She was more peppy than usual, telling me about how her trip to L.A. was going. After a short chat with her, I heard my uncle yell in the background, “Kobe Bryant passed away! Helicopter crash.”
Stunned and in denial, I did a quick search online. TMZ had confirmed the story. I held on to the hope that it was a false report from a source I never really cared for, but it was true. All nine people perished in a chopper crash in Southern California.
I wondered why I was in such shock over this news. I’m admittedly not a big sports fan, so I didn’t follow Kobe during his playing days. Was it the fact that I was celebrating my birthday and Kobe and I were both born in 1978? Was it because his daughter Gianna was around the same age as my niece whom I love and adore?
I’m still processing this tragedy and feeling the feels. Every time I’m filled with sadness, I turn to writing to let the therapeutic process flow. I realized that death has taught me so much more about life — and truly living in the present moment.
Here’s a video diary summarizing my thoughts. I hope it inspires you to feel the feels and express your emotions the way that is best for you, be it writing, singing, being silent or walking in nature.
Celebrate every day like it’s your birthday and hug your loved ones like it’s their last day.