I’m sure you’ve already read the news today, oh boy (just as I have). Robin Williams, star of stage and film, has passed away. This one hit me like a gut punch, if I’m being completely honest. For the sake of transparency, I’ll admit that upon finding out I cried my makeup off while sitting alone in my bedroom. And while, I have had friends pass away in the past (too many) either by their own hand or sheer accident, this felt just as personal. Williams, a comedy legend, and cultural wallpaper, felt like family.
For most of us of a certain age, Robin raised us. He was in films that shaped our childhood: “Aladdin”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, “Hook” and had a memorable turn in “Faerie Tale Theatre” as the Frog Prince. He influenced us as we grew older in classics like “Goodwill Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society”. Robin felt like a father figure. And in a way he was. Normally, my course of action when presented with news of this sort, would be to head to the nearest bar and drink myself away to oblivion. That not only felt inappropriate given the circumstances of the loss as Robin battled with substance abuse and depression for most of his life, but also because I have a complicated relationship with sobriety as well. As a result, I’m writing this instead in order to deal with my feelings.
I’ve written before about moving as a result of having my family be career military while growing up. What I’ve neglected to mention, and I don’t touch upon as much is the loneliness and isolation (whether literal or figurative) of constantly moving up and away from the people that you’ve connected with on a regular basis. Frankly, it’s not as glamorous and no one wants to hear about that. Nevertheless, it’s shaped me. I had a father who I didn’t see or speak to for months at a time, and was raised by a mother who was emotionally withholding. Not only that, but when I wasn’t alone, I was an only child surrounded by adults. This Victorian way of child-rearing creates a certain type of adult later on in life. And then there’s Dakota Fanning.
I learned early that despite being shy that I was funny, and used that to charm people into liking me. My earliest career aspirations weren’t that of a doctor, a scientist or a ballerina, but instead a comedian (I’ve since grown out of that aspiration, as I also have an intense fear of public speaking ironically enough). I admired his fearlessness, his manic energy , childlike glee and raw sensitivity that he brought to his craft. When I was younger, I used to pretend that my parents weren’t my actual family. Robin was really my father, and that one day he’d find me. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized that this a childish idea, but by then I saw enough parallels with Robin in my life. Like myself, Robin was an only child. Like Mork, I lived briefly in Boulder, and had a roommate named Mindy. I’ve also wrestled with personal demons of my own, and I’m saddened to see that Robin lost his battle with his. He was a dynamic and memorizing performer, and there will never be another like him.
My thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends. I am so sorry for you loss.
RIP Robin Williams. I’ll be sure to commit a run-by fruiting on your behalf tonight.
Recommended Filmography: “Good Morning, Vietnam”, “Dead Poets Society”, “Toys”, “The Birdcage”, “One Hour Photo”, “World’s Greatest Dad”.
If you, or someone you know, is feeling depressed or experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255; operators are available 24/7.