Updated: Nov 16
By McKenna Leavens
The other day I had a friend ask me, “Why is it that when people ask you to tell a story that defines you, the first and only thing that comes to mind is your trauma?”
I thought about this question for a while. I couldn’t help but think about how true this statement is.
I wanted it to be wrong, I so badly wanted to be able to think of a story that defines me that had absolutely nothing to do with me being 17 and walking into my living room to find my dad not breathing.
I wanted to be able to tell a story that defines me without having the words; loss and pain in it.
For so long I have been afraid to tell my story, afraid that people will think I only tell it for attention or sympathy. In all honesty, I tell my story so others feel comfortable to tell theirs.
I tell my story to heal.
I came across dozens of people who have lost a parent or sibling and each time I hear their story I gain an immense amount of empathy, I realize that telling your story is NOT the same as living in your story.
The world has just witnessed a death so public and so tragic.
What the world doesn’t understand is how tomorrow is not promised. No one is untouchable, and no one is immune to trauma.
I know a lot of young people who do not have a relationship with their parents or who are so pissed off at the world and everyone in it they decide to shut everyone who loves them out.
If you’re reading this please let those people back in.
Forgive your parents, accept them for who they are and all their faults and love them anyway.
Forgive your boyfriend or girlfriend for that stupid fight you got into, forgive your friend for not always being there for you.
Just forgive them. Accept them for who they are. And LOVE them anyway.
One minute I was sitting at my kitchen table with my dad and brother talking about college and watching my brother’s eyes light up when my dad talked about seeing him play college ball.
Then, the next thing I know I’m standing next to my brother as we gave eulogies at my dad’s funeral- now looking into his eyes as they held so much pain and regret. His light was dimmed, and how could it not be?
We had lost the light in our lives, and we will forever try to find it again. You never get over a death like that, it lives inside of you.
You learn to live in a world where the person you love the absolute most is gone, because you don’t really have another choice.
You find a new normal.
Bad things happen; terrible, awful things that we will never be able to explain. Then again if we could explain it, it probably wouldn’t be so terrible.
Stop looking for answers in your pain. Sometimes it’s exactly what it seems.
Tell the people you love that you love them, give your family a hug. Take responsibility for your wrongdoings and love the hell out of everyone in your life.
Love and then love some more.
Leave this world knowing you did everything in your power to make a mark, leave this world knowing you made someone feel special, we all know Kobe Bryant did just that.
RIP to Gianna and Kobe Bryant as well as those who also lost their lives during this tragic time.