I was going to write a different post today, but as I was up in our room, trying to get something out, my husband texted me…
ROY: Robin Williams died
ROY: He committed suicide
It was just so out of the blue and utterly unbelievable. And yet, I am just a fan. I can’t imagine (or I can, but I don’t want to) what the people who knew him in real life, his loved ones, family, friends and coworkers are thinking or feeling. My heart goes out to all of them.
Robin Williams was probably the first ‘funny guy’ I recognized growing up as a kid. In fact, he was my steady stream of laughs through the nineties with the occasional appearance from 2000-2009 and then back for another steady stream of laughs up until… well now.
I was first introduced to Robin Williams in ‘Hook’ with his portrayal of an adult Peter Pan. A string of hits followed and I was captivated with the man who taught me there were so many different kinds of funny, and he could be every single one. He lent his voice to the genie in ‘Aladdin’ and in ‘Ferngully: The Last Rainforest’ as Batty Koda. Then there was ‘Jumanji’ another Pan role of sorts for Williams and I was utterly captivated. (This was seriously my favorite movie for an entire year and a half. I even got the board game.)
Next Williams made me laugh, but his vulnerability and the dramatic undercurrents of his character also made me think and feel grateful (‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ and ‘Jack’). He made me cheer (‘The Birdcage’) and he only continued to make me laugh, whether it was campy, fun, or bordering on dramatic as the years went on (‘License To Wed’, ‘RV’, ‘The Big Wedding’ and ‘The Crazy Ones’).
And it wasn’t just me, he made so many people laugh, brought so much joy to so many people for so many years. I didn’t say anything on social media, because I didn’t know what to say. Most of my friends were echoing my sentiments. “So sad…” “I can’t believe it!” “Rest in peace…”
I am stingy about who I add on Facebook as friends, but that does not prevent me from seeing how some of their friends reply to their understandable posts of loss, sadness and shock. And these replies were not so understandable and made me feel like giving a virtual bitch slap to a few people through my computer. I don’t care who wants to compare Robin William’s death to someone else’s or who has a serious problem with pointing out why these deaths are different. Every death is different because every life is different and yet every death is also the same. It is always a shock, always a loss and always carries the heavy burden of finality. Because every death is permanent.
Then there are those on their soapboxes about suicide. I have seen people make comments about Williams’ mental state (“he was always a little schizo”) or make judgments about his last action on Earth, calling it “the most selfish thing a person can do” or making comments like “I would never do that.” My short version stance is this: Shut-up, and remember the man.
The not so short version: Nobody can definitively say what they would or would not do when pushed. Every situation carried thousands of variables and no one can know what they can survive or what will break them, until they face off in that moment. In terms of suicide being selfish… I understand why some people can think this; if they have lost someone they love to suicide. It is the anger part of the grief process that never fully leaves a person. But to them and to anyone else saying this because they are far too narrow… Depression is real; brain chemistry is delicate. I see suicide as the same as being killed by a disease. I hate the disease and want to cut out its heart and give freedom back to those who grapple with it every day. But I don’t judge those who don’t survive it. I only hope they find the peace the eluded them in life.
Robin Williams was a true talent, comedic genius and a man who struggled with a disease for years. Today that disease finally took him. My heart breaks when I think of the struggle he endured, and I hope now he is finally able to rest. I hope that he realizes the gift he gave to millions of people throughout his life. I hope he realizes the gift he was himself.
Dear Robin Williams,
Thank you for the gift of laughter, for the happy memories I have as a child, adolescent and adult. Now rest… I hope more than anything else you are finally at peace.