STILL REELING from the events of February 14. While many of you were making plans for Valentine’s Day, Oscar Pistorius’ world was falling apart. He had just shot and killed his girlfriend and was soon arrested and charged with murder.
I remember jumping out of bed the second I heard the news and muttering “Oh God what happened?” again and again.
It didn’t make sense at all. Pistorius? A murderer? No way. I still hold that thought and hope it was a tragic accident like he has maintained, and that his name will eventually be cleared though that may never happen since the South African Police and Press seem bent on demonizing him.
Already, he’s being compared to O.J. Simpson and I know he’s never going to be looked at the same again. I feel sad about Pistorius’ predicament, the same way I do for Lance Armstrong. As is well documented, both men have overcome enormous personal challenges to leave their mark and along the way, they have inspired millions. That is why it’s so hard on fans. Nobody wants to hear terrible things about someone they look up to and aspire to emulate.
Lance and Pistorius’ misfortunes remind me yet again how unpredictable life really is. One minute, everything looks good and you’re on top of your game and the very next, it’s all gone. Only three days before February 14th, Oscar had tweeted about his excitement for his first 2013 race and now his Management team has withdrawn him from upcoming competitions so he can focus on his legal woes.
While his sponsors have issued statements indicating that they will honour their contractual obligations, you almost sense their discomfort, perceived or otherwise. No doubt a couple of them wish they had no business with him. I know that because I saw pictures of billboards bearing Oscar’s image being pulled down just hours after the shooting. I’m not saying people shouldn’t atone for their actions but can’t we at least wait until they’re proven guilty before alienating them?
Away from celebrities and high profile cases, each one of us has to deal with these unexpected occurrences. If it hasn’t happened to you, it has happened to someone you know. It could be a sacking, freak accident or contraction of an incurable disease. Whatever the case, your life and the lives of your family are impacted forever.
Earlier this year, we lost a cousin who was electrocuted at his workplace. Only last September, he had married his sweetheart and they couldn’t wait to start a family. All he talked about was what he would do with his baby and he will never even get to hold him. We asked God all kinds of questions and got no answers. Today’s tough times demand that his wife sucks it up and prepares for the birth of their baby but that’s the easy part. She’s going to have to raise that child on her own.
I know another guy, actually a friend’s dad who had worked the same job for 10 years. He was the definition of exemplary and as usually happens, bad things happen even to good people. One fateful day, he was being driven to a workshop with a few other colleagues when their car collided with a speeding truck. Two of his colleagues didn’t survive while he suffered extensive injuries that have confined him to a wheelchair since. The truck driver barely got a scratch by the way. For the first few months, relatives and friends were supportive to my friend’s dad. Even his bosses chipped in to help with hospital bills and school fees but eventually, everybody had their own needs to take care of. Some of his children had to drop out of school and later, the family had to sell their house to put food on the table. Talk about life-changing experiences!
To be continued…