Around this time of year I often think about Robert Enke and the tragedy which was his life. I think about it because his story had a visceral impact on me given the manner in which my own father passed away.
In writing the book, A Life Too Short, about the life and death of Robert Enke, the author, Ronald Reng, put to paper some incredible insights into the mind of a man who not only was a friend and confidante but who also happened to be a top level professional footballer battling depression.
As a story, it's harrowing and difficult to read at times given how stark some of the details are, particularly in relation to thoughts shared by Enke himself at his lowest points; as a study, though, the book is an invaluable resource in chronicling the symptoms and effects of depression on an individual.
It also serves to prove that depression isn't selective - it can affect anybody, even a man who was set to be Germany's number one goalkeeper at the 2010 World Cup. Given the money in the sport now, it can be easy to assume that many top earners can't be touched inside their bubbles, but diseases don't care about bubbles, money or anything else. They don't discriminate.
As a literary achievement, A Life Too Short is impressive and an important work; from a pure human standpoint, Ronald Reng deserves tremendous credit for his control of tone throughout the book and for not letting his emotions interfere in the process.
As time goes by and distance is put between yourself and the past, you never forget but return to what happened with new perceptions. What Reng has written just today on Facebook on the subject of Enke's death reflects many of my views when I think about my father, particularly the viewpoint of depression distorting reality. For me, that really is an important factor to remember when asking that devastating and impossible to answer question: "Why?"
If anybody reading this is interested in learning more about Reng's book, A Life Too Short, you can check out a review I wrote last year for Extratime.ie here: