For the most sensitive among us the noise can be too much
– Jim Carrey on Phillip Seymour-Hoffman’s passing.
I was sitting in a Starbucks near Times Square when I first heard the news that Robin Williams had committed suicide – on Facebook of all places. I screamed “No!”, but covered my mouth too late – the sound was already out there. Thankfully, everyone was so busy Starbucking and talking that my “No” quickly drowned in the stew of noises and voices and blenders. No one noticed.
I read the headline on my phone, and my heart dropped, or at least that’s what it felt like. Then immediately I became consumed with sorrow. Then that sorrow turned into panic. Panic, because this wasn’t ever supposed to happen. It must be a cosmic mistake. Robin Williams was supposed to be the male equivalent to Betty White. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that we would loose him this early, and I will admit that I took him for granted. Despite the love we all felt and feel for him, we took his presence on this earth, and in our lives, for granted. He was supposed to be there for me forever, and as I write this now, I can’t believe my own selfishness. I see now that that is a lot to ask of a person.
So now I just feel sorrow. And sometimes disbelief.
In my life, I have been sad – really, really sad. I call it “sad” because it’s a feeling so primal and raw, that it feels ageless. This feeling should be described with a word that is not reserved to any particular age or knowledge – a word that we all know. I have been sad, and I have also been suicidal. Each time, I have chosen to stay. Until Monday, he has, too – until now. This time, he chose to go.
Somehow, we are assuming that he never got any help. We are assuming that there were all of these options that he never went for – that he hadn’t already tried medication and therapy. We know he self-medicated. We know that he struggled. We know that this can’t have been an easy decision. Many have made it sound like the knowledge of the love we all felt could have saved him, and somehow could have prevented him from making this decision. I don’t think that’s true.
I’m absolutely certain that he felt, and knew, the love of his family – and probably the rest of us, too. By all accounts, him and his family were very close, and it seems like he especially had a close bond with his children. They are probably why he stayed for as long as he did, until he just couldn’t anymore. But ultimately, we will never know. He didn’t leave a note, and if he had, I don’t think the public would have been deserving of its content. All we know is that he must really have wanted to go.
The thought of him being gone is very heard to bear, and sometimes I don’t believe it. As an audience, we are lucky that we got to have him for as long as we did, and he owes us nothing. He has left an incredible legacy, and I can’t wait to show my future children the movies that have brought me comfort and love throughout my childhood, youth, now, and undoubtedly forever.
But it’s more than that. He was my friend. He was probably your friend, too. He was my family. He was probably your family, too. I remember watching “Mrs. Doubtfire” for the first time, amazed that a father could feel so much love for his children that he would go to those lengths to spend time with them. In those two hours, I made believe that he was my father, and he really was. He had such kind (but sometimes sad) eyes, and I could tell that he wouldn’t mind that I allowed myself to believe that I was his. He gave me so much love, and I will forever be grateful for that.
So thank you, Mr. Williams. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. May you finally find peace and happiness.
I grieve for his wife and children. My god, I can’t imagine the heartbreak they are experiencing right now. I imagine it’s that of the whole world, ten fold, and that’s saying something.
I want to share something my brother posted on Facebook yesterday, because I feel that it is poignant and worth-while, and it is truly one of the most articulate and well thought out responses I have read thus far.
If a teenager chooses to commit suicide, be it over cyberbullying or depression – it’s like folding your hand of cards before looking at them.
You’re at a very vulnerable age, and you’re not even old enough to buy cigarettes in most countries – so you’re not old enough to fully assess the quality of your life as a whole, seeing as you’ve only statistically seen 25% of it.
When Gandolfini died of a stroke at the age of 51, he died on vacation in Italy with his son. No choice there.
He died from having lived the type of life he wanted to live. Quite suddenly.
Robin Williams decided to take his own life at the age of 63.
63. That’s closing up on retirement age.
I think that’s just about old enough to decide whether you want to live.
That’s old enough for me to actually respect his decision, and let him go gracefully. (as gracefully as is possible)
It doesn’t surprise me that he chose to take his own life at 63 – and I think that his suicide shouldn’t be what we remember him for.
He should be remembered for his great gifts to the human experience.
“It’s so sad, he had so much more to give.”
How do you know?
Maybe he was out of shit.