I’m not really a football fan. Let me say that from the start. I married a hardcore Chargers fan, so I tolerate it out of necessity, but it’s never been a game I had an attachment to.
But I was a Junior Seau fan.
I grew up in Oceanside, Junior’s hometown, and our little town couldn’t be more proud of his success. He would come to high school pep rallies. He took care of his family and friends and neighbors and was actively involved in philanthropy. You couldn’t find a single person willing to badmouth him. In short, he was a real sports role model, the kind so uncommon these days.
The news of his suicide came as a shock to me and to his many many fans. Even in his utter despair, it’s thought he chose to end his life with a bullet to the torso instead of to his head so others might be able to study the effects of his career and brain damage. Here, at his lowest moment, still thinking of others.
It’s so hard to really know someone by outward appearances, isn’t it? Money, beauty, success, talent, none of it guarantees happiness. Depression is a nasty, nasty beast that can take down anyone, and no amount of fame or fortune can guarantee one immunity.
I’ve seen so many people in practice struggling with depression; sometimes I know because they tell me, and sometimes I know just because I know, all too well. Online, a lot of people have shared with me how their pet has helped them through tremendously difficult times, and that, too, I understand very well. There have been many times I have been so grateful for the calming weight of a warm dog’s shoulder, a much needed anchor in a storm.
I’m sad that the demons were too many for this man to bear, a man who had done so much good in this world and yet could not escape whatever internal weight he struggled with. We may never know the cause, be it injury or illness or genetics or circumstances, nor does it matter to me. I feel for everyone and anyone who has gone through that kind of anguish. So I’m just putting this out there to the universe in case someone happens upon it who needs to see it: yes, other people are out there who understand, and I promise, we care.
Bye, Junior. I’m sorry you left us so soon. If you see a big red furball bounding around up there, say hi from me, OK?