I’m sad today – just like so many millions of people around the world are. My gut reaction to hearing about Robin Williams death on Monday took me by surprise. When I told my boyfriend only minutes after finding out, I burst into unexpected tears. I did not know the man but I felt a sharp and painful loss instantly as if I had just lost a family friend.
That his death was not an accident or a sudden illness made it that much harder to comprehend. How can a person who spent nearly his entire life making people happy struggle so hard to find happiness within himself? I don’t make any claims on knowing or understanding depression or addiction like he suffered from. I can’t envision a feeling so dark and overwhelming that it obliterates any reason and makes you choose the worst possible option on the table. But it makes me so very sad that someone who made us all so very happy felt exactly that hopeless on Monday morning.
I was born in the 70’s and am a child of the 80’s. Mork from Ork made me chortle and giggle from 6-10 years old. So really – can you blame me for feeling like I lost an old friend? I literally grew up with Robin Williams. Just like the 80’s born children of the 90’s embrace him as Mrs. Doubtfire and the Genie in Aladdin. He’s part of so many childhoods – so many teenhoods spent with tears running down our faces as we laughed ourselves sick at his stand-up (even if some of the sex and drugs jokes went over our heads.) He was brilliant and insane and when he showed up on a talk show or entered the scene in one of his (comedy) movies, you’d always whisper an “Oh no!” not of negativity but of breathless anticipation of what sort of lunacy was about to be unleashed from his marvelous brain and agile body.
While I can’t quote him off the top of my head, I can say with certainty that some of the first times in my life I ever laughed myself into a tear-faced, possible wet-pantsed, air-gasping, stomach-aching, body-shuddering laughter was because of Robin Williams. We have all lost so much. He has lost his battle with such darkness in his soul, his family has lost a father and husband, his friends – his fans – his charities – the film industry – we all lost this week. We lost BIG.
To people who think, “Why would anyone get upset about the death of a celebrity they didn’t even know?” I point you to Twitter where people are standing on their desks in an #OhCaptainMyCaptain salute, or to my beautiful friend Sarah’s ferocious rant to depression, or Chris Gethard’s essay on his own encounter with Williams, or to Boston where locals are scrawling a memorial on his Good Will Hunting bench. We didn’t have to know Robin Williams personally to mourn his terrible death when we grew up with him, he made us laugh, he cheered us up, he wore his heart on his sleeve for us all to see.
Like I said – I’m taken aback by my own grief at this senseless, stupid loss. I am so heartsick for a man who gave us so much joy and couldn’t find it in his own heart for himself. And I’m pissed that we will never again get to look forward to whatever new, ridiculous, hilarious Robin Williams Moments we might have gotten.
Rest in peace.