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Tuesday, January 03, 2006
A Serious Post
"It's easy to find something worth dying for. Do you have anything worth living for?" --Lorien, Babylon Five

A few weeks ago, the sports world was shaken by the death of James Dungy, son of NFL head-coach Tony Dungy. As the reports came out, the news went from bad to tragic as it was revealed that James had taken his own life.

In the weeks that have followed, we've seen the Dungy family have to publically deal with what is a very private pain and one that will not easily, swiftly or possibly ever go away. I will admit that in the wake of this family tragedy, I've been moved by the show of support for Dungy and his family from people in the sports world and those outside of the sports world. I've also been moved by Dungy's faith in God during this time and his falling back on that comfort in a time of pain, sorrow and tragedy.

Thoughts and prayers for Dungy and his family have been on my heart and mind these past few weeks. I cannot fathom the hurt they are expereincing. It was nice to see Dungy back on the sidelines Sunday afternoon, coaching the Colts to a season-ending win over the Cardinals. The images of players rallying around him and the sound of the home crowd showing their compassion and support for he and his family was moving.

I've been thinking a good bit about James Dungy and what happened to him. I hadn't posted before now because it's been a hard thing to wrap my mind around. See, I've never understood suicide. Oh yes, I get that it's the ending of your own life. I get the how, I guess what I don't get is the why.

In high school, a student that I knew that in that vague, I could pick him out of the yearbook kind of way took his own life. I remember sitting in my desk, hearing the principal tell us that a fellow student had passed away. I remember a teacher said it was a tragedy, even more so because of how it happened. I saw how it affected those who knew him--even some who had barely met the guy. There were so many questions and no answers for those left behind and I vividly recall a good friend who'd known the guy breaking down and wondering if there was something more she could have done. If she'd done something different, would he still be here?

See, that's what I don't get about suicide. I realize that life is full of pain. I've been through some. But even at my lowest, I've never once felt like that ending it would be the only solution left for me. Even when things were bleak, I had some hope or some small glimmer of light or soemthing I could hold onto. Sometimes it's something as absurd as slipping into the fantasy world that is Doctor Who for 25 minutes where I don't have to dwell on my problems or issues for that time.

I was watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last week and I got to thinking. In the movie, Jim Carey decides to erase his memory of his relationship with Kate Winslet because it's too painful for him at that time. However, as he starts to lose bits of the memory, he starts to realize he has something more than just the memory of a sad ending--he's got the memory of the entire relationship, good, bad and all that stuff in between. In the end, he tries to hide memories of Kate Winslet in other places to hold onto the memory of the life they both had together.

As I watched the movie and thought about James Dungy, I wondered if in some way this wasn't what he was trying to do--trying to find a way to erase bad memories or pain he was experiencing. I wonder if this might have been a motive or it might be a motive for others. But instead of just erasing a memory, they decide to erase themselves from the world.

I wish I had some easy answer. I don't. I didn't know James Dungy. I don't really know Tony Dungy and his family. I'm an outsider, invited into their family's pain by the media and the fact that Dungy is coach of the Colts. I find myself pulling for the Colts in the playoffs because I hope that in some small way that being distracted by something as meaningless as a football game can help Tony Dungy cope with what he's going through.

I also find myself thankful that I have family, friends and a support structure that I know no matter how low I get or how down I feel or think I am, that there is always hope.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/03/2006 01:33:00 PM | |
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