Three Short Obits

Two weeks ago was the 14-year anniversary of my grandfather’s death. He died from cancer. He never met Sierra and Isaac.

That still makes me sad. They’d have loved him. He’d have loved them.

Frankly, that’s not fair.


January 2020: Three Short Obits

  • “Proceed with Caution” — The New Amsterdams
  • “Under a Rock” — Waxahatchee
  • “Flexi Funk” — The Electric Peanut Butter Conspiracy
  • “Dance of the Clairvoyants” — Pearl Jam
  • “Flying Waterbed” — Dr. Octagon
  • “I’m So Glad I Found You” — The O’Jays
  • “The Letdown” — Diane Coffee
  • “I’ve Been Thinking” — Handsome Boy Modeling School
  • “Pull the Wires from the Wall” — The Delgados
  • “On Fire” — Sebadoh
  • “N.Y.” — Doves
  • “Pearl Cadillac” — Gary Clark Jr. (w/ Andra Day)
  • “No Caliphates” — Sons of Yusuf (w/Talib Kweli)
  • “Chase the Tear” — Portishead
  • “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” — David Bowie
  • “Coffee’s Gone Cold” — Tim Heidecker
  • “All Ages Shows” — Bomb the Music Industry!

The struggle to build a legacy depends a lot on luck and exposure. It also depends a lot on hard work, and if the memorials pouring in are any indication, the legacy of Kobe Bryant — legendary Celtics irritant and future hall of fame basketball talent — will be steeped in words like “grit” and “hard work” and “mamba mentality.”

I was a basketball fan in the mid 00s, and so my thoughts on Kobe are more complicated. There were scandals, and his off-court drama veered sharply into a kind of entitled arrogance. But over the past decade and a half, that reputation softened. He became an ambassador for the game as a whole and, even more, championed women’s basketball as his own daughter looked to become a star.

Kobe had transcended basketball, and Gianna was on her way as well. Both are gone, along with seven others.

I’ll never know the inner workings of a celebrity superstar, of someone whose name has been in lights so long we can’t remember a time when it wasn’t. Kobe Bryant, for all I know, lived a very full and successful life. But it wasn’t long — certainly not long enough — which brought the news pretty close to home. Kobe Bryant was 41. Just like me. Gianna was 13, just a year older than my daughter.

Kobe Bryant will never meet his grandchildren. His daughter will never fulfill the promise of extending the legacy of “mamba mentality.”

That’s not fair.


Mary Jean wasn’t Kobe Bryant, and she wasn’t my grandfather. She was a friend; a bike riding buddy, present on literally every planned bike tour I ever rode. She was an adventurer; the kind of person who, after riding 60 miles and landing at camp, mustered enough energy to suggest ice cream. And, upon returning, she’s the kind of person who just sat in quiet bliss, under the shade of a tree, our legs slowly coming back to normal, eating that ice cream, fueled by sugar and milk fat and little bits of candy bar.

All Mary Jean could do was smile. All of us, too. And then, she was gone.

We had no idea, and I’m not sure she really knew until it was too late. Cancer again, nearly the same age as my grandfather was when he passed from cancer. She traveled the world, living as if the next month would be her last. And then suddenly it was.

Thousands of people die every day on either side of the mortality rate. Some live longer than expected, some shorter. Some are surrounded by family, some on their own, by design or through unfortunate situations. None of it is easy, and I’m really only writing this to get something down and off my mind.

Mary Jean was successful. She lived longer than some, but still not as long as she should have. She had so much happiness, and she gave back to the world, leaving it better than when she arrived, and all of us were affected; if not a nationally recognized legacy like “mamba mentality,” at least a striking and strong personal legacy that drives us toward kindness and happiness.

She filled her life to the top, every moment, every day. Most of us would see that as a life well-lived.

I don’t care. It’s still not fair.

None of it is.

This was lovingly handwritten on January 31st, 2020