An Open Letter to Ed Reed

January 13, 2011 |

Dear Ed,

I wanted to write and wish you well this week.  Not this Saturday, but today, and yesterday, and every day since the terrible moment you heard the news about your brother.  I want to extend my sympathies to you and your entire family.  I want you to know that you are not alone, that many people can understand and sympathize and wish you comfort and love and healing through this passage of your life.  You should understand that at times like this, you are viewed as a man, a son, and a brother, more than as the wonderful and talented football player you have always been.

For all the blessings and joy we can count in our lives, tragedy and its consequences is unavoidable.  Nobody is immune to it.  There is no singular trait we possess to escape it.  The sorrow and shock of sudden loss has touched everyone.  Whether it’s natural disaster, an auto accident, a heart attack or some other form, there is simply no way to prepare for it.  All that can be done is to accept it as part of our journey through life.  Of course there are the unanswered questions, the anguish, the lingering doubts as to what could have been done differently to change the course of fate, but as you’ll discover, these will fade over time.  And over time, your head and your heart will be filled with the joyful memories of the one you loved.

I know all about brothers, Ed.  I have two of them myself, in addition to three wonderful sons.  Don’t ask me anything about daughters, though, as I have none, or any sisters.  Strange how life can work that way in some families, isn’t it?  So I’m deeply familiar with the bonds that brothers build and carry through life.  It’s unique and special and something I am always thankful for every day.  And even though we may be spread apart in years and in miles, each of them is only a phone call away.  Whether it’s happy news to be shared or personal problems to unload, they always take the time to listen, to counsel, to understand and to respond, just as I do for them.  We are each unique in our talents and abilities, and as we’ve grown, I know we’ve come to appreciate those differences more and more.  I take great pride in their accomplishments, just as I’m certain Brian did in yours.  It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to turn to someone and say, “Yeah, that’s my brother.”  Just as it’s wonderful to watch my sons grow and prosper and begin to develop their own personalities and differences.  I even find myself smiling at their quarrels and rumbles ( well, most of the time, at least, until there’s blood drawn! ).  I know you can relate.

As I wrote earlier, we all know the pain of loss, Ed.  Perhaps it’s not a brother, but another relative or dear friend.  For me, it was my father dying last February of a sudden heart attack during the first blizzard of that crazy week.  He was my family’s leader and my greatest influence, especially when it came to my love of sports, and Baltimore’s teams.  I have no doubt that I care as much as I do about your success, and your team’s, because of him. 

Emotion is the most powerful force in life.  It can lift us up, drag us down, make us great or belittle us, depending on the circumstances.  It is up to each of us to determine how to best handle it, given the time and the place.  For a while after my father died, I was certain he was controlling events that, rationally speaking, could not be controlled.  The Saints victory over the despised Colts in last year’s Super Bowl was, I was utterly convinced, his doing.  Until Korie Lucious sank that heartbreaking three-pointer to end his beloved Maryland Terrapins’ basketball season.  Then I realized how I was allowing my emotions to control my day-to-day living without him.  As painful as that lost basketball game was to me, it was a much needed wake-up call to get back to the business of living my life the best I could every day, especially for those who needed that the most from me. 

Much has already been written and said about this weekend’s playoff game in Pittsburgh.  I’m not writing to shed any further light on what it means to everyone involved on both sides of this great rivalry.  And honestly, you know about it better than any of us, having not only lived it, but played it all these years now.  Take your emotions and channel them in the best way you see fit, Ed.  Lean on your brothers in that locker room for support and understanding and comfort.  Be your best, give your best, and never forget that regardless of the outcome, you are admired and supported by many of your fans as much more than a football player.  I’m sorry that it takes a tragedy such as this to understand that, but I felt you should know.

Before I close, there are two more thoughts I wanted to share with you:  First, I gave my younger brother a black #20 jersey for Christmas this year, which thrilled him immensely, as you are his favorite Raven, and as he didn’t own a Ravens jersey.  He’ll be watching and wearing it on Saturday in Boulder, Colorado, and you’ll probably be able to hear his cheers from there.  Second, my father passed away on February 6th last year.  I just checked my calendar, and it appears there’s a football game scheduled for that exact date this year.  In Dallas.  It sure would be cool to see his favorite team ( and mine, and my sons’ ) playing in it.

Best of luck to you and all your brothers in achieving your dreams, Ed.

May God Bless You and Your Family,

Your Friend and Fan,

Mark C. Suchy