#RIPRobinWilliams. That’s what greeted me the morning of August 11 as soon as I logged on to social media for my usual client check-ups. For a moment, I couldn’t believe it: No way, it’s not true. It can’t be true.
But it was, and for the rest of the day (until today, actually), his death opened up “a can of worms,” as one of my friends put it. It opened the world up to the reality and validity of clinical depression. It also brought out some of the worst opinions in people, in particular those who obviously knew nothing better than to judge and presume on the tragedy that befell one of the most iconic artists of our time.
I was so annoyed by some of the comments I’d read, both on local newsfeeds and international blogs. So I took to Facebook today to post an update about it, and it apparently resonated with many. (I was in the car on the way to an errand when I posted this, so forgive me for the typos!) But after going through social media posts and comments about the late, great Robin Williams, I realized just how many people out there just don’t get it. Here’s what I mean:
This update garnered comments from several of my friends, a handful of whom I discovered had undergone depression at some point in their lives. I didn’t know that some of them were going through what they did, but I didn’t feel shocked or disturbed. I think my simple act of showing my support for them, for the depressed, the misjudged, helped them to open up, even if only through a comment on my thread.
I didn’t do anything grand: It was just an update on Facebook. Still, that one comment — one wherein I expressed my understanding and compassion for those who might be battling depression — resulted in an outpouring of expressions: gratitude, empathy, release, acceptance. I commended the “brave ones” among my friends who had left a comment, especially those whom I learned for the first time ever were battling depression. I wanted to give them all a hug, and let them know that they could call on me whenever, for whatever.
I’m deeply saddened that Robin Williams left us the way he did, and I won’t claim to understand what drove him to take his own life. It’s not my place to assume anything, but to accept what has happened and remember that there are others just like him, probably battling the same feelings, emotions and actions. They could be my own friends, and I wouldn’t even know it.
But as troubling as his death is, I want my lingering thoughts about him to be happy ones, inspired ones; you know, the way I remember him. It seems silly to pay tribute to someone I never knew, but like President Obama said in honor of Mr. Williams, to me Robin Williams was,
… an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.
I’ll likely watch a string of my favorite Robin Williams’ movies during the weekend, just to celebrate the way he made me laugh, and more so how he made me cry (because he was an even better dramatic actor than he was a stellar comedian).
I’ll probably start with Good Will Hunting, followed by Peter Pan and Mrs. Doubtfire, for a bit of classic comic relief.
Then I’ll pop in some Patch Adams, before moving on to Where Dreams May Come (which will surely drive home this week’s events terribly well, ironically).
I’ll for sure also be watching Aladdin in between all that, with Vito. When he’s old enough to understand, I’ll explain to him what an amazing and talented actor Mr. Williams was, and how he excelled at bringing joy to people through his gifts.
Finally, I’ll be capping it off with one my favorite film of his — one that hits home for me every year when I watch it — Dead Poets’ Society. For sure, I will be fighting back tears during the movie’s final scene, especially when Mr. Keating turns towards his boys with that smile and says, “Thank you, boys…thank you.”
Thank YOU, Robin Williams. We pray you find peace. We’ll keep your family in our thoughts are prayers, too.