The Past and Present Tense in Vanessa Bryant’s Tributes

Today marks the first anniversary of the death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

Much has been said and written about the faith of the family, and there is something that I find remarkably demonstrative of that faith in the speech Vanessa Bryant delivered at a memorial.

In her 20-minute speech about her husband and daughter, Vanessa Bryant alternated, in a subtle way that seemed very deliberate, sincere, and full of faith, between speaking in the past and present tense.

She began by saying, “Gianna Bryant is an amazingly sweet, gentle soul. She was always thoughtful, she always kissed me goodnight and kissed me good morning…”

That emphasis on the word “is” is unmistakable. Most of the speech contains memories, reflections, and anecdotes about her beloved husband and daughter in the past tense, but there is another instance when she switches, appropriately, to the present. And that’s when Vanessa said, “Mommy, Natalia, Bianca, Capri, and Daddy love you so much, Gigi.”

To speak in the present about those who have died is to make an act of faith in the immortality of the soul and the confidence that love has power over death.

By her tributes, Vanessa bears witness to her trust that when a person dies they do not wholly cease to be.

Now, one year later, she continues to demonstrate faith that is worth noticing and worth contemplating – faith that her daughter is a soul who continues to love and be loved.

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