I can’t stop thinking about Robin Williams.
The birth of Mork and Mindy was the first time my pre-DVR existence fell victim to prime time scheduling. I declined any and every opportunity or offer to be anywhere or do anything that wasn’t in front of my tv on Thursday night, so I wouldn’t miss a minute of Mork from Ork (right after Happy Days). There was something adorable and entrancing about Mork. The perpetual twinkle in his eye caught and held our interest. Mork was endearing, and innocent, and lovable. I adored the final few moments of the show when Mork reported home to Orson about what he’d learned here on planet earth.
Following Mork and Mindy, I tended to cherish movies with Robin Williams. Well, I never saw Popeye. Some of his films, like The Fisher King and The Dead Poets Society, were so powerful that I felt compelled to watch them any time I happened upon them. In general, I am not good at remembering movies, or scenes, or themes, or lines. I have an awful memory and often cannot even recall a scene from a movie or tv show that I saw just yesterday. But, the suicide of young Neil in The Dead Poets Society was so jarring, and so final, that it wove itself through my consciousness. I rarely thought about Robin Williams when I wasn’t watching a Robin Williams movie, but there were many occasions, when life wasn’t turning out as I’d planned, when my mind would wander to Neil, and his final desperate act. Not because that seemed like a solution for me, but because I couldn’t understand it as an answer for anyone, especially not a young boy who hadn’t tried hard or long enough to fight for the life that he wanted.
Robin Williams, I believe, fought hard and fought long. But depression is a monster, and maybe Robin was beyond any ability to see that there was still some hope or promise in his life. The scariest thing about his end is knowing that a person like Robin Williams, universally adored and fortunate to have any and all resource available to him, just for the asking, couldn’t survive the darkness that consumed him. If he couldn’t escape, how could anyone? I’ve tread a thin line between light and darkness my whole life. There are days and even hours when I’ve been on both sides of that line. I have never suffered as severely as it seems Robin did. Also, my body has never accepted drugs or alcohol as a salve. So, I don’t think I’m a suicide risk. Still, I am shaken and scared by what happened to Robin, because it was finally just beyond his control to keep living. I don’t know if anyone in my life would recognize that I was moving down a treacherous path and hold my hand to take me in a different direction. Reflecting on Robin, I vow to take care of myself as well as I can, and seek help for depression when it attacks, long before the slope becomes slippery.
Rest in peace, Robin Williams. I so wish you could have lived in peace.