While we were in Europe, a man murdered his wife, his kids, and himself in Tilden Park. My son tells me that the wife was the doctor who helped cure his headaches. He finds it hard to believe that such a woman is dead.
A friend down the street who does gardening work for us stops by yesterday to tell me that one of his family members, who grew up with my kids, was found dead in his sleep. The fellow wasn't even 30 years old yet.
A man I never met but saw dozens of times, a baseball pitcher for my favorite team, is found dead before he has reached 40. His death hurts, not just because he was a baseball player, but because he seemed more "real" than most of his peers ... he'd drink beer with the fans, he was like one of us.
And now this ... pro wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife, and his son have been found dead in the family home. Initial speculation, and it is only that, although the police are speaking with what seems to be some authority, is that Benoit killed his wife on Saturday, his son on Sunday, and himself on Monday.
Chris Benoit might have been my favorite wrestler. I haven't watched much in recent years, but the best match I ever saw live featured Benoit, and his match at Wrestlemania XX a few years ago, where he finally won the championship that had eluded him for so long, was a great moment in "sports entertainment." Virtually every wrestler was more charismatic than Benoit, and he couldn't come close to the all-around brilliance of someone like the great Ric Flair. But Chris Benoit was one of the great technical wrestlers of his time ... he knew a lot of moves and knew how to use those moves to help create an interesting narrative within a match that made everyone involved look better. He worked his butt off to entertain the fans, and it was a nice thing that over time, he won those fans over, they were able to look past his relatively bland persona and see what a tremendous talent he really was.
The thing is, I really didn't know this man. I didn't know my son's doctor, but my son knew her ... she was a real person. Nor did I know my friend's family member, but I could see on my friend's face how important the person was to him. I didn't know Rod Beck personally, but it felt like he was offering a part of himself to his fans.
But Chris Benoit wasn't ever Chris Benoit ... his profession being pro wrestler, his job was to play "Chris Benoit." So the person I pretended to almost know wasn't even the person himself, but only the person he pretended to be for my benefit.
So I can't be surprised if it turns out that Benoit murdered his wife and kid and self ... I didn't know the man, I knew "the man." But I admit to being shocked that this hard-working athlete, whose insistence on ring excellence made him an icon of perseverance, someone to look up to, may have had serious demons. Everything about this is extremely disturbing in lots of unprocessed ways.