UNITED STATES─It has been a tough week for many Americans, the untimely death of NBA star Kobe Bryant, his 13 year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California took America by surprise. It was so unexpected, so tragic that it left me, as well as so many others that I know with an impending feeling of dread on Sunday, January 26, as well as the rest of the week.

It’s like when death transpires it’s a jolt to the mind that death is something that is promised to all of us. We are not promised tomorrow, the next day, the next week, the following month, a year from now, a decade from now. I think celebrity deaths tend to strike many Americans bigger than the average death because we tend to think they are invincible. They are larger than life, they don’t encounter the problems we encounter, but if you look beyond the glitz, glamour, the press and the over-the-top lifestyles that some celebs live, they are just like us.

I was stopped in my tracks when I heard about Kobe Bryant. I couldn’t believe it; I needed a moment to process what was unfolding. It felt unreal; I was glued to the constant news coverage for about 6-7 hours that day. I wanted to know what transpired, and how it transpired. When I heard about his daughter, I was stunned, I was hoping it was not true, but once the confirmation came out, my heart melted. I couldn’t help, but think about Kobe’s wife Vanessa, and their family. She lost her husband and daughter in the same day; its unfathomable, heartbreaking and tragic beyond what words can explain people.

I recall when Michael Jackson died I was stunned, Prince left me speechless, but with Kobe I cannot put into words what I felt and what I’m feeling. It is emotions beyond emotions, which is why I felt the need to write this column. It makes you cherish the people in your life, your core family, your work family, those relatives you don’t see all the time, but they still hold a special place in your heart. When tragedy strikes it reminds you to be thankful for the things that you do have in life.

Tell your children, your parents, your siblings, your grandparents, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and anyone who is part of your family and even those who are NOT, that you love them. We sometimes lives in this illusion that these people we care about will always be beside us, but that is not always the case. Take a moment and tell people you “love them.” Simply put, “I love you.” Its three simple words, but its words that so many of us never utter, until we realize it’s way too late to do so.

Written By Zoe Mitchell