I am in shock. Even though I didn’t know Robin Williams personally, I think everyone who was ever moved by one of his films can attest to the fact that he was like a friend to millions. As I watch the tributes to his life on the news and read about him on website after website, I wonder if he would have felt the same sadness and despair had all of these people shouted his praises from the rooftops while he was still alive. Why is it that we wait until someone passes away to say the best things about them? What are we waiting for? Day after day passes and even though we may feel proud of someone or love someone…if we never actually TELL that person what is in our hearts is it really worth feeling at all?
I was trying to do my workout this morning while I listened to the news but I found myself sobbing. From the outside looking in, Robin Williams had it all right? He was famous, great personality, awesome sense of humor, amazing intelligence and insight…yet when it came down to it, when the spotlights were off and the fans had all gone their separate ways there was something inside of him that was so devastatingly morose (I don’t dare use the word sad…O’ Captain, my Captain…) that he felt the only solution…the only way to bring peace and end the suffering was to end his life. The irony is astounding.
As I sat in my truck yesterday waiting for my kids (and a few other people’s kids) to get out of their after school activities, I saw the news bulletin scroll across the top of my cell phone screen…”Actor Robin Williams found dead at the age of 63.” My heart skipped a beat, tears welled up in my eyes and I could barely breathe. Sounds like a pretty dramatic reaction to a stranger’s death, I know, but there’s more to it. You see, in my mind I had always equated Robin Williams to someone who was very close to me…someone who was my whole world…my brother Matt.
Seeing those words scrolling across my phone screen immediately took me back in time to that freezing cold mid-January evening in 1995 when I got the most horrible phone call from my father that I could have ever imagined. “Your brother Matt is dead, Honey. He’s dead. I’m so sorry.” Those were his exact words. I can still hear them ringing in my ears to this day. I remember collapsing on the floor just as my then fiance Tom came bursting through my dorm room door. There are no words. It’s just cold and sad and scary. He was gone and I missed him already.
Earlier in the week, I had meant to give my brother a call to ask him to be in my wedding the following August. I was so excited to ask him, but got busy and distracted with classes and work and college life in general and just never got around to making that call. I took for granted that I would have another day to “get around to it.” I didn’t. I never got to ask him. He never knew.
Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing my brother knows what kind of spirit he had and I think, would also agree that he and Mr. Williams had a lot in common. They could both light up a room with their sheer presence. They could make absolutely anyone laugh. Their puns sucked. They got you thinking…and kept you thinking. They had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the world simply by the words they chose to speak. They both were very sad…and hid it well. They both liked to drink…sometimes a little too much. They both ended their lives so sadly and tragically. How is it that something that brings such pain to those of us left behind is believed to bring peace and stillness to those who make that choice? This is a mystery I will never understand.
I pray that the good Lord is holding Mr. Williams in his arms at this very moment, telling him he is Home and that everything is going to be just fine now. I pray that he is at peace and that he is making the angels laugh…albeit with a little cleaner humor than he may have used here on earth. And I think it would be really cool if maybe, just maybe he could meet Matt and they could share a few laughs…yeah, that would be really, really cool.
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