Empathy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few days you know that Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter passed away, along with 7 other people in a horrific helicopter crash.

I am not going to sit here and tell you I was a huge fan of his, I was not, not because I didn’t like him, but because I don’t watch sports. But like I said, you would have to be living under a rock to not know who he was.

When I heard the news I was shocked, and then saddened, because I imagined his wife and three other daughters hearing the news. I imagined the other families learning their loved ones would not be coming home.

I read the news articles and then the comments, comments never fail to shock me. Someone wondered how can people be sad at the passing of someone they have never met.

I’m going to tell you, there have been a couple of times I was deeply saddened by the passing of someone famous that I had never met.

The first was President Ronald Reagan, when he passed away I very literally sat on my floor and sobbed like a baby. He was my first President and I loved him, I also felt keenly for his widow, watching Nancy walk up to his casket and lovingly touch it and not wanting to leave him. Well it was like watching my mother at my fathers funeral.

He also had Alzheimers, my dear mother had that horrible disease, I felt for Nancy Reagan, I know what she had gone through the last few years of her beloved Ronnie’s life.

The second was Kidd Kraddick, he was a local radio host here in North Texas. I had been inviting him and the morning crew of 106.1 Kiss FM into my home and car since the early 90’s. He was a fixture in the mornings, I loved his 8:30 rule. The 8:30 rule, for those not familiar, is simply put, they would not say or do anything on the air until after the kids were in school. This way parents would not have to explain anything they weren’t ready to their children.

His passing was so unexpected, I sobbed hard, ugly sobbing, upon hearing the news. A friend I worked with at the time, Pam, also listened to him. She asked if I wanted to go the memorial. It was in downtown Dallas. We took the train after work and celebrated, mourned and took comfort in being around so many people who had loved him the way we did.

I felt empathy for his daughter, she would never have her dad walk her down the aisle or be there for any grandchildren she might one day have. It saddened me that she had lost her father, way too soon.

So that is why we are sad when someone famous passes away, we feel empathy for the ones left behind. We feel sad that we won’t hear their voices on the radio, see them on television or on the big screen anymore.

It is an odd thing when someone dies that you don’t personally know but you feel the loss.

It is not crazy, stupid or inane, it is human nature to feel the loss that others feel. Even complete strangers.

My heart breaks for Vanessa and their three daughters left behind, my heart breaks for the family that lost a mother, father and sister. My heart breaks for the pilots family, for the coach’s family, for the team missing their teammates today.

Loss is real, even when one doesn’t know the other humans involved. We can feel all of those things and that is what makes us human.

To those of you who didn’t know any of the people on that helicopter but still mourn, I understand.

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