Immediately after learning from my husband that Seau had taken his life I blurted out "That's awful. How selfish." For someone who lost a father to suicide I think it just came out raw and those feelings and questions of "why?" really never get resolved completely. I didn't turn on the tv because I could easily have given my whole day up to the curiosity and sadness... at first that is exactly what I thought about the unfortunate cicrcumstances.
Thursday morning on the way to school we were listening to Star 94.1 FM and they were paying tribute to Junior Seau in the best way possible. Callers shared instances of having met him and their memories were all so personal, even though most of them had just met him on one brief occassion. Everyone spoke of how his ability to make them feel connected, as if they were old friends, his graciousness for fan photos, his generosity not just with money but his TIME struck me. THIS man was a San Diego hero. He had a unique ability to bring that energy and love off the field into one on one interactions. He is one super star who didn't seem to act like it. A role model for not just kids, but anyone, really. AJ made a great point that this man did this for over 20 years. A community guy. That is what I loved hearing in these stories shared by listeners on the air.
My husband got to experience that same feeling. He and a buddy were eating at Seau's once and Junior stopeed by asked how everything was. Then he pulled up a chair and struck up a conversation with them. It was a moment of awe. Eating lunch with a Pro Bowl player and future hall of famer that you've looked up to as a kid. He took a few moments of his time to share with 2 young guys that would stick with them forever. Let's be honest, Junior had plenty of things he could be doing with his time, so I'm left to wonder, what motivated him to do that? Some people are just bigger than others. But, there are few people who share that ability to be humble and down to earth with others when they've tasted NFL super stardom. His family raised him right. He was born to love people. His charisma and generosity might even have been to his detriment.
Pastor Mike from The Rock was on the air for a minute and he said people got to have someone they can "let your hair down with, be real" and I agree. Who knows if Seau had this opportunity. When everyone around you seems to look up at you and you falter, it might be just easier to keep up the happy face than be judged if you are suffering inside.
What if his choice was made to help others?
The family of former NFL star Junior Seau will donate his brain for medical study into the impact of repetitive concussions on football players
It sounds like he'd been suffering from depression with the car incident back in 2010. He tried to take his life then, and I know the scenario of repeat attempts. Marcelius Wiley says in his interview that he asked Junior to be real with him, but his question was begging for him not to be "Tell me you just fell asleep at the wheel." We don't even know how to properly reach out to people even when that is our intention. Depression is so taboo and someone who is in it doesn't want to deal with more possible negativity or labeling from explaining to someone where they are coming from so they more often than not do not reach out. It is clear with the passing of Number 55 that we need to do more as a society to lend our listening ears, educate and help our friends and family. Start in your own home. That's what I'm going to do. I already know there can be a higher tendancy for depression with the experience of my father. His mother died from alcoholism and that is strongly related. Being aware of the tendancies, seeking support and leaving judgement out is a step in the right direction.
That's Mommy's slice of the pie on Seau and the legacy he leaves behind. What's yours?