The End Of Time

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant

We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic

-Van Morrison

I once wrote that as soon as you take your last breath, a million years will pass in the blink of an eye. The vacuum of time and space belies the tranquility those stars are painting for us inside this tent.

When you think about it, life manages itself just fine in spite of the effort so many of us put into wasting or stealing or borrowing its precious commodity. Its movement is effortless, like a parade inside the ether whose consequences are perpetuated inside one long string of granules whose beaches will eventually run to the other side of that thing called forever.

But where time is neutral, mortality is a locomotive on speed dial; a merciless fire that pulverizes everything in its wake. It does not discriminate the rich from the poor, the good from the awful, the old from the young. When it wants you, it will return you to the mystic from whence you came. Ready or not.

Each time I attempted to write about Kobe Bryant’s passing, I failed. Miserably. And I guess some of it had to do with the fact that I was never that much of a fan. My love for the Association was time stamped inside the halcyon days of Magic, Kareem, Dominique, Bird and Jordan. The last name on that list will always be first in my book. I always respected the generation that Kobe and Shaq carried into the new millennia, but I already had my mind made up when it came to the masters.

But the post was never about basketball in the first place. Oh sure, the tributes from players and arenas across the country were sporting life testimonials to the everlasting hold Bryant will always have on the game he knew and loved. For me it was different. As far as Kobe was concerned, I saw a man who always learned from his trials and tribulations- especially the self inflicted ones. This isn’t meant to sweep Colorado under the rug of idolatry that feeds much of society, because I will not. And I think it’s probably this complicated history that provided the most dubious hurdle for me when I got to writing about last Sunday.

So I remembered back to that line I once wrote about death and its timeless thrust. And this served to cancel out the narrative of a Renaissance man of the hardwood and a legendary college baseball coach. Because when you break this tragic event down to its saddest common denominator, you get nine souls whose forever got lost in the fog last Sunday morning. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. All of them, gone to the million years worth of mystic that began to unfurl much too soon.

Gigi was thirteen years worth of mighty, and she was going to play for the UConn Huskies someday. Her basketball sister, Alyssa Altobelli possessed that very same fire; she aspired to play ball at Oregon. Her mother Keri was the basketball super mama who fueled Alyssa’s dreams. Sarah and Payton Chester were the ultimate mother/daughter team; with mom coaching up her girl in all things basketball and life. Christina Mauser was the coach for the Mamba Academy team; the mother of three will not be there to celebrate her daughter’s fourth birthday this week. Because a Sikorsky S-76B piloted by Ara Zobayan crashed into a Calabasas hillside, stealing countless chapters from the stories that will forever be unwritten.

My heart breaks for the eighty years worth of living Gigi, Payton and Alyssa never get to have. And I mourn for Keri, Sarah and Christina, who never get to see their girls prom nights and wedding days. And John and Kobe . . . they never get to finish their most important jobs of all; as fathers to young girls who were their heroes.

Gone for a week now, a million years worth of it.


23 thoughts on “The End Of Time

  1. Marco,

    This is your writing at its finest. The flourish of your pen is beyond my capabilities to describe so I shall not attempt to and just let your words swirl around me like a warm and comforting hug.

    And let me thank you in the names of the families affected. They lost their loved ones too soon. No, none is spared no matter how high or low, good or bad. And focusing on the fact that nine souls were lost is the way you were meant to go.

    Sad as this is, this is the writing I love best.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dale,

      You always give me inspiration and love and that energy that makes me question the why not of more. So really, thank you is in order.

      It’s nine stories. Gone. And I know we, as a society, behave in a way that is not personal in nature. We KNOW Kobe so that’s who we mourn. But really, it’s the story of Kobe and Gigi. Father and daughter. Flying into the mystic with seven other souls, who all have stories too.

      My first reaction last Sunday was “Kobe died?”. But then I read and learned and knew a lot more happened on that hillside. The death of a legend is week long headline-worthy. But that’s not what I was feeling. Not then and certainly not now.

      It was the chapters. Of a book that never got finished. Nine of them.

      Thank you love.


      Liked by 1 person

      • This is all you and if I have in any small way inspired you and given you the needed love and energy then, everyone benefits.

        Nine. Lest we forget in the Kobe spotlight. And, thanks to you, we will not. Nine souls have been lost.

        Yours, mine, the world. And I am rather glad you took a week to write this.

        Well said. A book no one can finish.

        Thank you and also, you’re welcome love.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well said, and appreciated, and loved.

          Nine stories with too many chapters left stolen to the mystic.

          I am too. I read so much on this and I got to ‘know these lives. In other words, the eight lives I had no idea about until last Sunday.

          Kobe wasn’t a hero to me. But he was a hell of a father. And to me, it was his most important job.

          Love you.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It goes both ways.

            Yes, far too many chapters. That mystic can be rather greedy.

            I keep thinking about when the news came out. It was Kobe and his daughter. I didn’t hear about the seven others until hours later. How insane is that? I even wondered if he had a pilots license!

            No, he wasn’t to me either and I love that you focus on what he also excelled at. Being daddy to those four little girls.

            Love you too.


  2. Yes, so many tributes about the players, but this one is more about the person. A post that is poignant and sensitive. I think about the Altobellis. No – not the mother, father, and daughter lost in the crash – but at the surviving kids who lost both parents and a sister. There’s a 29 year-old half brother, but what happens to 16 year old Lexi? ….. at least in the short term.

    I’m also glad that that you encountered roadblocks when trying to write about this tragic event. Well, simply because you did so damn well with this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There will be no coverage of those who have been left behind, unless it’s the Bryant family. So it’s a good thing there is such a unique support system going on with these families. They are going to need each other more than ever.

      I could not write a glowing tribute to a complicated legacy. And besides, there were nine souls on that helicopter. Not one.

      Thank you Frank

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the love and kindness that are in the words and for remembering all the souls that were lost in this tragic accident. “Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” ― José N. Harris

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I know. I think for me that’s the hardest part. Many of these families didn’t lose just one member but two members of their family. And they were all so young. We will never be able to experience their full impact on life.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That is what is heart wrenching. The parents, John and Keri, Christina and Sarah and Kobe . . they were undoubtedly much too young. But at least they had lived. These young girls were just getting started.


  4. I was afraid you would write about Kobe and I’d get annoyed by what you wrote … but … I think you got it just about as right as it could be. I’ve been very frustrated by the reaction to his passing.

    Yes, it’s an absolute tragedy for him and for his family. I cannot quibble with that. And yes, he was one of the greats in the history of the league. But, he didn’t revolutionize the game as some have suggested. He wasn’t a saint. You may be right about him learning from his mistakes, but what I saw was one of the most arrogant, obnoxious professional athletes of his era. And I simply cannot stand that type of athlete. Give me Barry Sanders, who never celebrated a touchdown because he expected to score, over a flashy prima donna any day of the week.

    And then there are those really bad moments from his past that are being eliminated from the public record.

    I don’t know. Part of it for me is the nature of our celebrity culture. And I’ll admit that I wrote a few posts about Neil Peart’s passing, so I’m not entirely immune from this, but I think we lionize and idolize these famous people in a harmful way. I think it’s just as important, if not more important, who the other people on that helicopter were. And what their stories were. Away from the limelight, there are all sorts.

    The day Kobe died, I lost a friend of 38 years. A friend since I was 17 and only two years older than me, Jennifer was diagnosed with early on-set dementia five or six years ago. It finally got her last weekend. But she’s not a celebrity, so nobody knows and nobody cares. No, what she was though was a good friend and a good person who just wanted to have fun and tried to ensure that those around her had fun too.

    As Neil Peart might say ..

    Living on a lighted stage
    Approaches the unreal
    For those who think and feel
    In touch with some reality
    Beyond the gilded cage

    The deaths of those nine individuals is a tragedy for their families and friends. Kobe wasn’t a saint and I don’t think that should be forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark,

      The reaction is predictable. The idolatry of strangers is empty calories as far as I’m concerned. Don’t get me wrong, when I heard the news I said “Holy shit? What? Kobe?” But then I read up, and as soon as I learned his thirteen year old daughter was with him- a girl who never gets to prom or college or the rest of her life . . it changed everything. And there were seven other life stories that got lost that day. Not one.

      I feel like we are living in an age of madness. There was a writer who was SUSPENDED for bringing up Colorado. Are you kidding me? Why does that feel like Rome to me?

      Your friend doesn’t get the coverage. She doesn’t get the thousands who converge on her former workplace. She doesn’t get the mentions from other celebrities around the world. But I think, in the end, the lesson must be the same. Carry them with you. You are their light now.

      That is the perfect line to add, wow.

      May we appreciate the life we get, because it truly is a precious thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is the best tribute I have read, Marc. It covers the entirety of the tragedy. The young girls and their parents are lost to all of us forever. Yes, Kobe is the center of attention but you managed in your talented way to look deeper and recognize that the not so famous should have a place in our heart. It takes a real good man to see the full story of this accident. You’re that man, Pilgrim.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had the initial “Kobe died?” moment last Sunday, because the details seemed impossible to process.
      And then I began to read about the other lives lost that morning. And while I do not begrudge the tributes to a basketball legend, I also do not feel as if I had to pay much attention to them. No disrespect, at all. I simply wish to mourn for nine people instead of just one.
      Thank you John


  6. I wasn’t sure where this piece was going at the start- I was caught up in the magical imagery you do so well. I’m glad it wasn’t about some sport star, but all the lives cut tragically short. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A beautiful reflection, making some sense of the insensible.
    The entire tragedy is a reminder to live and love well today because no tomorrow is assured.
    And to be patient. Maybe you don’t have to get from point A to B right now, even today, if weather and safety dictate waiting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, there is no way such tragedies ever make sense.
      I think if I take one thing away from all of the people who have spoken about Kobe, it is that to a person they spoke about being better in their own lives. That’s what needs to be taken from this senseless tragedy.
      Thank you RW


  8. It took me 23 days to find this beautiful tribute. All of the accolades to this point could not begin to to match what you have written, or was written through you. You have encapsulated these nine soul into to words that resonates with love. 🙏🙏❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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