I found out the news that a person whose athletic (and academic) successes I had heard of since high school, and who grew up to be a legend in the National Football League had passed away today. Junior Seau was a standout student-athlete at Oceanside High School, and he had graduated the same year as I did.
When I had heard the news, I was immediately taken back to 1986. Both the newspaper and yearbook staffs from my high school were in Anaheim, CA for competitions that included high school newspaper and yearbook staffs from all over California. I was serving as the sport editor for the paper and competing in the sport-writing competition. The person we interviewed: Junior Seau, then a standout athlete who lettered in four sports and was also an honor student at Oceanside High. I didn't remember much about the interview... just that we had a limited amount of time to ask him questions, and then we had a limited amount of time to write a 750-word story.
There isn't much I remembered about that day, except that I was struck by how well articulate and poised this guy from Oceanside was and that he seemed to be destined for greatness. He would eventually go on to USC and then play professional football with the San Diego Chargers, the Miami Dolphins, and the New England Patriots.
The news of Junior's death had spread through Facebook and Twitter. I had friends who not only knew Junior, but was also friends with him. One of my friends was in anguish. He kept on asking "why?" Why did he have to do this; why couldn't he have talked to someone; why couldn't he have turned to family and friends to ease his burden and his pain? "It's frustrating when people who need help, who really need help, don't turn to their family and friends. This is happening too often! For the record, I have a shoulder for you to lean on, I'll listen as long as you care to share your thoughts! Reach out for help!!!"
We don't know what was in his heart and in his mind. It seems rather uncharitable towards him and towards his family (his poor anguished mother and his three teen-aged children, amongst others) to speculate what that may have been or to even link previous accidents and incidents to the final, fatal action he did earlier this morning. All we could do is offer prayers to the family and friends Junior left behind and to offer comfort to those who knew and loved him.
I end this rather rambling post with a YouTube video by USC Athletics that was made in memory of Junior Seau. Neighbours had known him to sit in his balcony facing the Pacific Ocean and play his ukelele and sing songs. For Junior and for Roderick: Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.