I was sitting in my office when someone casually said from across the room, "Huh. Former Patriot Junior Seau found dead in his home." That shock, that moment of terror you feel when someone you know has been hurt or killed, flooded me. I walked over to my coworker's desk. "What?"
She read the headline again. "Who's Junior Seau?" She asked.
"He was one of my favorite football players." I responded, rushing back to my own desk so I could look up the information on my own. I didn't know Junior personally. I knew who he was on the football field, and I adored him. I frequently talk about how much I adore Tedy Bruschi, but if I had to pick a second favorite, it was Junior, hands down. So despite not knowing the man, I was struck by the news of his death. Even a few days later, just thinking that he's gone makes me sad. For so many, you connect to the players you watch week after week. You may never know the man, but you feel like you've gotten to know the player. You see the heart and determination that they lay out on the field in every game, and you connect. When tragedy befalls them, you feel it.... not nearly on the level that their loved ones do, but you feel it.
I didn't know if I was going to write anything about it. As more information came out, and the news of the death likely being caused by suicide arose, all I could think was that this could have been avoided if only Junior asked for help. I watched his mother weep on television, and my heart hurt for her. These were the tears of a woman who truly didn't know there was anything wrong with her son, a woman who would have done anything to help him had she known. But she didn't know. Junior, by all accounts, was a happy, friendly man who loved life. There were no signs. I keep reading the same thing. Everyone said there were no signs.
In 2010, when he drove over the cliff, it didn't register to me that it could have been intentional. Now I, surely along with everyone who knew him, wonders if he was trying to end his life that night. If someone that he knew and loved had recognized it as a cry for help instead of an accident, would he still be alive right now? Herein lies the problem with the more charismatic among us... they're so good at being charming that it's harder to see when there's a problem. No one can tell me Junior wasn't charismatic. I won't believe you.
So here I sat this morning, still thinking of what it took to push Junior to suicide, thinking that he should have just asked for help. I'm sure his family is thinking the same. I clicked through my blogroll, reading Sox updates when I came to an entry titled "Junior" on Cursed To First. Feel free to head over and read it. I'll wait.
Back? Good. I don't think it can be said enough... there's no shame, no weakness in needing help. I urge people to be an open ear or a shoulder to cry on for the people that they love most. If you're having a hard time coping with something in your life, please find someone, anyone to talk to. It can only get better if you stick around to see it get better.
In a perfect world, no families would have to suffer through the pain and confusion that Junior's family is going through right now. But even in this severely imperfect world, there's plenty of help to be had. It doesn't make you any less of a woman or a man to ask for it. Rest in peace, number 55. Though far, far too soon, rest in peace.
1 week ago