David Kimani: Third and Final Segment. In the interest of full disclosure –- a warning — the final segment does not have a happy ending.
David was recruited to South Alabama by an assistant coach. The summer after David’s highly successful freshman year at South Alabama, the coach was hired by the University of Alabama. Shortly thereafter, David transferred to the University of Alabama.
He had considerable success his last three years running for Alabama. So much success that he could have signed a professional contract and earned six figures for running.
David did not turn professional. He came from an impoverished community in Nairobi, Kenya. He wanted to be an example for the youth living in that poverty.
He wanted to be one of the first (if not the first) from his community to earn a college degree. He wanted to show younger people from his circumstances that they could be successful and graduate from college. He stayed in school.
The week before graduation, he had an agent. He was prepared to sign a contract that would pay six figures. He would be graduating as the role model he wanted to be.
He was in the cafeteria. He went through the line. He was taking his tray to a table when he collapsed and died.
Several autopsies were conducted. No exact case of death was established. Later I learned cardiac issues, although not a common problem in runners, occur more often than I realized.
I started my discussion of David by writing he was an exceptional athlete and person. I hope you understand why I made that claim.
Death. David’s death was not long after our daughter was killed. Death is not something that people talk a lot about and very little is taught in schools. It just happens. The strongest concern most people have about death is the hope that it will not happen to them, but it always does.
If you are privileged enough to live as long as I have lived, death is a fact you will often face. I lost a good friend from high school last week. Also last week, a dear friend lost his father, who was also my friend. We lost two members of our church in the last two weeks. We have one more battling cancer with just a few days to live. Be prepared, death is a big factor in the aging process.
In the Beatitudes it is written, “Blessed are those who mourn.” Just experiencing death is not mourning. To mourn you must have loved. I do not claim to be an expert about death, but one lesson I have learned is — I do not let the fear of death prevent me from loving. The pain of mourning pales in comparison to the joy of love.
Whether you believe life continues after death is a matter of your faith. My faith is not focused on my life after death but upon my responsibility to live as I should in this life — to experience love, joy, peace –- to be forgiving and thankful – – to be a steward over our many blessings and privileges — to pursue justice for all –- to love God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself.
The coach in this story was an acquaintance when he was an assistant at South Alabama.