Where Does Love Go When We Die?

Kobe and Gianna

He was a star NBA basketball player.  “Words can’t describe and it doesn’t do any justice to who he is and how he impacted the sports world.”

She played on her middle school team.  “She was fiery and stubborn.  She knew what she wanted and fought to get it.”

Together they died in a helicopter crash … father and daughter.

“Kobe was known to gush about her tenacity as a player.”  “Bryant often said his daughter’s passion for basketball rekindled his own love of the game, especially after his retirement.”

In a letter to Gianna’s mom, best friend Aubrey spilled forth her love: “I hope that in the midst of your intense sadness you catch a glimpse of joy in who the daughter that you created and raised was.”

Kobe and Gianna loved each other till the words faded away.


We don’t know much.  We can’t see the “after” and we can’t easily behold beyond the world of objects and time.

I say solid stuff is just the beginning.  We love flowers and poems.  It feels like they’re bridges to something so soft and pass-through. 

Love migrates, I think, leaking out of our decomposing shells and roaming worlds shapeless and shining.  And maybe returning to abide awhile in a loved one’s basketball or ball cap or in a favourite DVD.

When two go at the same time, perhaps there’s vibrating together in some netherland, spanning the rainbow, sitting quietly without bodies getting in the way.

Love continues and celebrates in ways that our tiny heads can only point to.  Let’s just close our eyes and smile.  Gianna and Kobe are here, there and everywhere, sharing the mellow moments with all who come close.

Last Minute Advice

Imagine, if you will, that you’re lying on your deathbed.  It’s been a good life, happily a long one.  It’s been full of fascinating characters, many of whom you’ve hugged in love.  You’ve been places – some that show up in travel films and some that perhaps you alone have seen.  You’ve been good to people, even those who have been mean to you.

As your eyes feel like closing, the bed is surrounded by children who are sad, mourning your leaving.  What would you say to them?  A few pieces of advice to carry them along.

If I were that person, I’d look in those kids’ eyes and say …

Go towards people, towards experiences.  Don’t back away.  Don’t let your fear turn you around.  Get close and see who’s there.  Feel their gifts as they find their way to you.

Welcome everything … the precious and the demeaning, the uplifting and downtrodding.  Every experience has brought you to today.  Every future moment will carry you amid all the tomorrows.  And you in turn will be welcomed into the full spectrum of living.

Love outrageously, because reason has no place in such an arena.  Love the flowing hair and also the warts.  Let nothing distract you from communion with the other.  And challenge the beloved to be the best possible version of themselves.

Throw out the books with all their borrowed wisdom.  There’s plenty inside you to see you through.  Trust the goodness there.

Know that you are unique.  Never before and never again has someone just like you come this way.  You have the power to touch the world in a way that it’s never seen before.

Express yourself … over and over again.  Be kind in your expressions but don’t omit them.  Ask life “May I have this dance?”

Look in the mirror a lot and see the folks gazing out from your eyes.

Finally, don’t try to remember all this.  Just live in gratitude for the time you are here.


This Marathon Life

I was rooting through my phone this afternoon for sports news, and came upon this headline: Levins Breaks Canadian Marathon Record.  In Toronto today, Cam Levins ran the 42 kilometres (or 26 miles) in two hours, nine minutes and twenty-five seconds.  Good for you, Mr. Cam.

I thought back to my own history in the marathon, grieving my natural aging and the decline in my athletic performance.  This summer’s early exit from the Tour du Canada bicycle ride still hurts.

How has it come to pass that a potpourri of body parts ache?  My left hip, left ankle, right knee, right thumb and central self-esteem – they all hurt!  But as soon as I type this litany of loss, I start smiling.  What a wacky life we lead.  Everything is changing, virtually every day.  New marathons of experience beckon.

I ran in five marathons, all previewed by many miles of training in the coulees of Southern Alberta.  In four of those marathons, I hit the mythical “wall”.  Somewhere around the 20 mile mark, the legs feel dead, with its many muscles demanding I stop.  Four times I did.  I especially remember the Calgary Marathon.  Vices planted themselves on every square inch of leg flesh.  On the count of three, they all squeezed.  Not only could I not run, I couldn’t walk.

1985 was special.  I finished the Vancouver Marathon, in a time of four hours and fourteen minutes.  The thrill was all mixed up with intense pain, and this time it wasn’t the legs.  My heart hurt.  I thought a little cool down walk might help.  I had three hours to kill before my bus would be leaving for Lethbridge, Alberta.  Hmm … bad choice of words.  I dragged myself through some downtown streets, and the pain worsened.  Oh my God, was this a heart attack?  Was this the end?

My steps became staggers and I fell onto a bench by the sidewalk.  I think I curled up into a ball.  “I’m dying.”  I waited for the closing to come.  No long replay of my life.  Just agony.

A gentleman who I later found out was a cab driver came over.  “Are you all right?”  >  “No.  Please call an ambulance.”  He helped me into his car and we sped off to St. Paul’s Hospital.  I stayed put for two weeks.  “Mr. Kerr, you have pericarditis, an inflammation of the walls of the heart.  You will recover.”  Judging by my current typing, I did.

I’ve dreamt of being an elite athlete, but it won’t be happening in this lifetime.  That’s okay.  There are other horizons to move towards.  I sense that mine will be in the realm of consciousness.  Slow and steady will get me there, certainly in a much longer time than 4:14.