So unless you’ve been under a rock the last couple of days, you saw the sad news that WWE wrestler (among many other roles) the Ultimate Warrior passed away Tuesday… it was just 24 hours after he made his public return to the company after years of bitterness and anger on both sides.
This kind of got to me, for a number of reasons… of course, he was 54. I’m 50. That’s far too close for comfort.
But it was two coincidences, I suppose, that really shook me up yesterday.
I mean, if you know me at all, or you’ve read this blog, the theme of distance-and-return should be obvious. There’s a vastly different scale, of course. For Jim “Warrior” Hellwig, this weekend in New Orleans was a return to his biggest stage. When I returned to CSzRVA in August, it wasn’t my biggest stage (but it was my favorite). The feeling had to be similar though — for him at the WWE Hall of Fame, going back as a contracted member of the WWE’s family for the first time in over a decade, must’ve been surreal. I’m just taking the feelings I had when I went back to CSz and multiplying them by (insert really large scale here). Was he excited? Nervous? Focused?
A lot’s been made about his last promo on Monday night, and how it seemed to foretell his death. Lest we forget, all of the classic Ultimate Warrior promos were apocalyptic — it was always about his Warriors going on long after he left the stage. It’s unlikely that he “knew” on Monday that he’d be dead on Tuesday. It’s more likely that reality just caught up with him.
But in that promo, and its timing, was the other echo. The one that really made yesterday rough.
And you know what I’m thinking of, but I’ll spell it out anyway, because it’s my blog.
It was the weekend between Christmas 2012 and New Year’s 2013. I saw a friend perform in his element on a Friday night — and was mourning him by Sunday morning.
I know how my friends and I felt when we lost Thomas.
I can only imagine how Dana Hellwig, her daughters, their family and friends felt yesterday.
It’s very difficult to reconcile seeing someone not only alive, but larger than life one day… and talking about them in the past tense the next. I’m still not fully over that weekend in 2012. I’m not sure I’ll ever be. And I have friends who were so much closer to Thomas, who never have really recovered.
That must be what Warrior’s inner circle must be going through right now, and will be for a long time.
Those echoes never fade.