This picture, for me, sums up so much of the life and passing of Robin Williams. There’s the Genie, with twice as many arms as the rest of them, holding them all up, hugging them, being joyful. But no one is there to hold him up.
I never expected to have a celebrity death hit me so very hard. But Robin Williams was a part of my life from such an early age. Some movies like Moscow on the Hudson, I’ve only discovered as an adult. Others, like Hook and Aladdin and Fern Gully and Mrs. Doubtfire, I enjoyed as a kid. Some became favorites when he was just on the sidelines, clearly doing it because it was FUN, like his role as John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt in To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.
And then there was The Birdcage, and even though it was two dads instead of two moms, I GOT that and could relate to it and it was close enough to my family that I clung to Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in that film. I loved them for it. I felt like they became MY family in that film.
He wasn’t afraid of gleeful silliness like Flubber. He could always just make me laugh.
And then there was Good Will Hunting, and he showed me he could make me cry. He spoke to Will over and over and over that his abuse wasn’t his fault. He called Will out on his bullshit. He loved his wife more than anything at all. He was perfect. He was perfect again, for me, in What Dreams May Come.
That movie, maybe more than any others he’s ever worked on, reflects the tragedy of depression. In retrospect, his character Chris Nielsen’s deep desire to see his wife again, knowing that she took her own life — it’s almost eerie. I hope that if there is anything after death for our consciousnesses or souls that his finds peace.
He never shied away from roles that were zany or even small. He was willing to try — and proved he could do — anything at all.
His face is one that became so many lessons for so many of us. He was so many people and gave so much of himself.
The problem with depression is that it isn’t just a hole you can fill in with dirt, tamp it down and cover it in sod. It is a black hole that devours everything you throw into it. Even if what comes its way is love and the adoration of millions of people. It’s not that the joy he brought to all of us wasn’t enough. It’s that depression is a hungrier beast than any of us can take on sometimes. You can never know the inside of a person’s mind unless they let you in, and even then sometimes the beast wins.
I said it on Tumblr, and I’ll say it again here.
This is how I’ll remember him.
For so much of my life, he brought me laughter. As I grew older, his films challenged me to think, to love deeper, to explore the world around me and to think outside it. How much of my life’s laughs were because of this man?
That he took his own life breaks my heart.
As cheesy as it might sound, we’ll preserve his memory in our laughter, mourn his passing with our tears, and never forget this beautiful, complex, talented man.
Robin Williams, you are and will be greatly, greatly missed.
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