Thomas John “TJ” Leduc was a constant companion during my childhood in Revere. I swam in his pool and slept over his house. The first time I was weirded out by the sight and sound of Boy George, it was during one of those sleepovers, when we were eating popcorn and watching Solid Gold, puzzling over the girl on the screen who sounded like a man.
TJ had a sunny personality that was often tested by those who made jokes about his weight. TJ was a big guy. I was fat myself but still joked about his weight. Sometimes, I really earned my outcast status. More often than not, we were close buddies.
As we got older, I came to value TJ’s sense of humor. That dude could make people laugh. It was always small things, like referring to steroids as “roids.”
Over the years we lost touch, but I’d occasionally attempt to find him. I checked Facebook regularly, to no avail. It turns out he had moved to Groveton, NH, and was running a market with his father, who I knew well. Based on a news article from their local paper, the market was a popular hangout. TJ is described as a great storyteller with a bright personality and sharp sense of humor that kept customers coming back.
But somewhere along the way, things went horribly wrong. TJ’s dad was diagnosed with leukemia and was quickly slipping away. As the senior Leduc lay in a hospital bed, TJ apparently learned that his father had accumulated a mounting pile of overdue bills. Maybe discovering that debt made him snap. Maybe it was the trauma of losing a father and business partner. It was probably a combination of both.
TJ died on October 1 at the still-young age of 40. His father died the next day, apparently unaware of his son’s death hours earlier. The newspaper article quotes police officers who labeled the death as a probable suicide.
Sad as I feel right now, I don’t feel the gaping hole in the heart that was there after Sean and Zane died. Part of that is because I’ve gained a lot of perspective about depression and suicide over the years, especially in light of my own battles with the disease.
I wrote a list of things I always try to keep in mind when someone dies this way. If you need some guidance, I direct you to “Death of a Second Sibling.”
Sean and Zane died young, with dreams and potential unfulfilled. It looks like TJ lived a good life and made many in his community happy. That article describes him as someone who cared for his customers and always had a free ear for teenagers who needed someone to talk to.
It kills me to hear that his life ended in despair. I pray that he’ll find peace in the afterlife. But I’m very happy to see that he made a difference before he left.
TJ, with his dad.