What to say? Staring at the blinking cursor against a stark white screen and hoping to put words to feelings.
The suicide of Robin Williams hit me hard. Yes, I’ve been a fan since before his debut on Mork & Mindy. That show defined my youth. And, after, I recorded every single Comic Relief Special he hosted and watched them over and over, mesmerized by his genius. And then there were the movies, way too many to recount, but among my favorites are Good Morning Vietnam, The Fisher King, Dead Poets Society, and Good Will Hunting.
It’s been 10 days since news of his death cross my life. I have been in a fog ever since, moving through but not living my life. With more than a hint of concern, my husband asked me, “why do you think his death has hit you so hard? I mean, a lot of people have died”. Why, oh why, indeed.
It isn’t because I was a life long fan. It wasn’t even because I visited and fell in love with Tiburon. Nor was it because we drove by and parked in front of his home, me in awe that he lived in California, right there!
It was because, for the first time in my life, I could relate to that level of darkness and it both hurt and scared me. To know that this man, who brought joy and laughter to a cadre of people the world over, with access to every resource possible to treat his addiction and depression, and surrounded by the love and affection of close family and friends, couldn’t see another way but to end his life? What does that say for the rest of us?
And, of course, as the malaise got worse and as I was not leaving the house and sleeping a lot and often, I worried that I was spiraling into the deep abyss myself. I kept thinking I was going to snap out of it, come around, get over it already. And, with each passing day, 10 of them to be exact, that didn’t happen. I didn’t want to eat or attend to anything, just get through the day in one piece so that I could go back to sleep.
But, you know what? I wasn’t spiraling into anything. It was a natural response to an unnatural act. Like his legions of fans, it made me very sad, that he would decide to take his life in such a horrific way. The echo of darkness of that depth of aloneness continues to reverberate and, well, how could I help but be moved? I learned something else about myself: I never allow myself to just be in it. I’m always trying to come around, put an end to it, try to get on with things. And, some times some things can’t just be gotten on with.
His death has taught be a valuable lesson about my life: it is OK to feel and sit and live with those feelings for as long as it takes. I don’t have to shove my feelings aside and put on a happy face. That might have been required of me as a child, but certainly not so as an adult. Some things just take as long as they take and that has to be OK. Relating to the plight of another doesn’t doom me to the same fate. It just makes me deeply human.
I have been championing a greater level of kindness and courtesy in my own life. It is one part of the human experience that I feel is missing in our day to day interactions with each other; just even noticing the other human beings who cross our paths let alone reaching out to those who are vulnerable in our own lives. I would HOPE that someone would do that for me.
Kindness. Courtesy. Compassion. Attunement. Connection.
May your heart, mind, body and soul be at peace, now, Robin Williams, and thank you for all that you meant to this world and to this fan. I am sorry that you left us too soon and that you were alone in doing so. May each of us affected by your passing make a point to connect, really reach out and listen to those we love, because without that human connection tethering us to this world, what is there?