In 2009 I am embarked on a one of a kind trip. It was dubbed ‘The Ultimate CFL Weekend’. 4 games in 4 days in 4 different cities. Edmonton, Toronto, Winnipeg and Regina. The results of the games are irrelevant, after all, it was 2009. However, I remember the first day being in West Edmonton Mall and I saw a trio of people that were my people…they were CFL fans. All decked out in green, recognizable to any one who followed our game, these were Rider fans. I introduced myself and found they were on the same four day mission.

They were Norm, Brad and Connie. Norm, I would later find out, could run for Mayor of Regina and win, as he is extremely recognizable anywhere he goes. The other two were very nice as well. Those four days we were inseparable. Whether it was meeting up before a game, seeing each other at the airport, or grabbing a bite after the game, we shared the mentality that regardless of what team you cheer for, you support the league.

After that weekend as the years went by I stayed in touch with Norm the most out of the three. I lost touch with Connie and would hear from Brad occasionally.  At one point he was constantly sending me ‘Farmville’ requests, a game I never played and I would typically respond with ‘Dude, what’s up with the Farmville requests!’ This was in a joking tone.

Several years after I met Brad he told me that he got married and I remember saying ‘Who would put up with you?’ I said that not because he wasn’t a good guy but because he lived and breathed football. Brad was smart; he married a woman who would embrace football with him. Someone who would go to games with him and someone who not only didn’t mind his distraction in our game but she enjoyed it. Linda…..was a keeper.

Brad became the source of some controversy, as he would post things on social media that people didn’t agree with. I can’t tell you exactly what but it was always, to my knowledge, football related. He’d give his view, which may not have been overly popular, and definitely didn’t win him any new fans.

Nevertheless, to me he was always Brad. The guy who usually had a green bandana on, with a big smile, ready to party. He legit couldn’t been the best department store Santa.

Yesterday on Facebook I noticed that Norm had posted a pic from that ultimate CFL weekend and I thought that was odd. It wasn’t the anniversary. The caption said ‘In memory of Bradley Mauer this was from our 4 games in 4 days trip in 2009. Will miss you buddy.’

Will miss you buddy? No. Did Brad move? Did he get a new job? I clicked on Brad’s Facebook and looked at his wall. I saw more and more comments and I was still in denial. No. This is a mistake.

I reached out to Norm. It wasn’t a mistake. Brad was gone. The official phrase is Brad lost his battle with mental illness. Brad took his own life.

I am not going to say that Brad and I were super close as we weren’t but we got along pretty well. Like most people I have met through my CFL travels we may not see each other everyday but when we do it’s like an amazing family reunion….a dysfunctional one.

I feel sad. I feel sad for his wife, his family, his friends. I feel sad knowing that I have encountered many people over the last few years who have dealt or are dealing with mental health issues and may have been in the same position that Brad was.

We never know what is going on with someone. We know what they want us to see. This is not about blaming anyone, as that is not the point. I feel miserable knowing that this man felt he had no other outlet, no other recourse but to take his own life.

I have met people who have thought about doing it but fortunately, they didn’t, I wish I could say the same for Brad.

This happens way too often and now it has come close to home.

My heart breaks for his wife, family and friends as they grieve him and try to put the pieces back together. I keep seeing his smile. I keep hearing his laugh.

I am so sorry that he felt there was no other way.

I don’t want him or anyone else who goes down this path to be just another statistic. He wasn’t just some guy who lost his battle with mental illness.

He was a friend, a husband, a son, a co-worker, he was so many things to so many people. He was my buddy…and his name was Brad.

 

(In the picture, Connie, Norm, Myself and Brad)