Jose Fernandez. A 2011 first round draft pick and All Star pitcher for the Miami Marlins. Cuban born, he was so determined to come to America that he attempted to defect three times before succeeding in 2008. He became a U. S. citizen on April 24, 2015 and recently announced his impending fatherhood. And all of that came to a tragic end sometime in the early morning hours of September 25, 2016.
On the surface, it appeared to be a boating accident that took his life. He and two of his friends died when their craft hit a jetty off Miami Beach, Florida at around 3:00 AM. His family, his friends, his teammates all mourned his loss, all waited impatiently as the results of the autopsy were finalized. After all, those results would provide answers. Those results would bring closure.
But as is the case so many times, the answers came bearing not closure, but more questions. With alcohol and cocaine in his system, a tragic accident became a senseless, needless death, a death brought about by choices he made just a short time before.
Unfortunately, closure is often an illusion fostered by hope, an illusion that fades in the light of truth. And it doesn’t just happen with sports figures or musicians or actors or politicians—the people we label as “celebrities” and whose lives fascinate us from afar. I cannot begin to count the number of times those final answers have deepened a family’s grief because those final answers told them it did not have to end as it did. Presumed heart attacks turned in to unintentional overdoses. Deaths due to accidents became deaths due to drugs or alcohol. And families looking for some random act of Fate to blame found themselves faced with the reality that their loved one played a significant part in their own demise.
So how do you accept unacceptable answers? How do you move passed the anger and the bitterness and come to grips with the loss? Sadly, you have to start by realizing that you cannot change what has happened. You cannot change the decisions that were made and the tragic consequences of their actions. There comes a point where you must acknowledge their humanity and their imperfection and understand that they never intended or even realized that their actions would lead to their death. If they had truly believed that was possible, then you must believe they would not have chosen that course. And then you must forgive them, for without that forgiveness you cannot let go of the anger and there can be no resolution to the loss. Anger and grief can co-exist quite nicely for they feed on one another, and the end result becomes two lives lost—that of the person who died and yours.