My mom answered the phone and all you could hear was a woman's voice yelling "Get up here. Get up here!" After the woman calmed down my Mom found out my Grandfather had a heart attack while sitting on the porch of their country cottage in upstate NY.
I watched as my Mom and Dad raced upstairs to get some things and ran to the car and took off in a panic for upstate NY from Long Island. My Dad was a former NYC cop so he turned a usually 2-3 hour trip into 90 minutes by driving 100mph.
When my Dad called that night I asked how Grandpa was doing and he just said in a soft scratchy voice, I’ll tell you everything tomorrow. I was in 8th grade at the time and went to school the next day thinking everything was going to be fine.
Just after lunch I got called to the Principal's office and was told my Dad was waiting for me in his car outside. When I got in the car I saw tears in my Dad's eyes. I don't think I ever saw him cry before so I knew the news wasn't good. "How's Grandpa," I asked?
"Grandpa didn't make it," he said choking on his words. "He died last night." Those words still bring me to tears even now as I write this 36 years later. I just broke down and cried and cried and cried.
When I walked in the front door my Mom was there waiting for me. We hugged and just cried together.
I never had anyone close to me die before. It didn't seem real. My mind couldn't accept it. Each day I woke up thinking it was just a bad dream... but it wasn't. He had a massive heart attack while my Grandmother was cooking in the kitchen and he died instantly.
I learned that day about the fragility of life. One minute you are here and the next you are gone. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed.
Yet over time you forget. You forget about the temporary nature of life. You forget about your own mortality. You forget that life can be lost and your world can change in a moment... until a day like yesterday when the world learned that Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash along with his daughter and several of their friends.
When I heard the news I felt once again like that 8th grade kid... shocked, sad, heart broken and hoping and praying it wasn't true. I hate when we're reminded of the fragility of life. I always think people are going to live forever until they don't. Even after my Grandparents passed away I never thought my parents would die until I saw them go. I hate it even more when it's so sudden. I never got to say goodbye to my Grandfather and my heart breaks for Kobe's family and friends that didn't get to say goodbye to him and his daughter.
Life is fragile. We don't know when our time is up. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed for any of us. So let's not go through the motions. Let's care more and put our heart and soul into our life and our relationships today.
NOW is the time to create our masterpiece.