Anyway, yes, for me, it’s personal on so many levels. I was so shocked, and then so not really shocked, just sadder than sad. I spent time on Facebook making sure it wasn't some stupid hoax, praying it was. There were so many people all sharing my shock and grief, and yet, I felt, they couldn't possibly feel like I do. Yes, duh, I know, but sometimes I feel it anyway, even when I “know” I’m wrong.
Then, predictably I suppose, the bullshit started. There were all these people saying “just goes to show you, you never know what’s going on inside someone…” And yeah, that’s a damn good point, and you should never assume crap about anyone. And “but he was so funny…” and "but he had so much, what did he have to be sad about?"
And I wanted to shout, okay, I probably did shout, that if you looked, you would have seen that Robin Williams was exactly what he seemed. Funny, dark, genius, kind… He showed us more of himself than most “famous” people ever dare. I’m not saying every character he played was deep, but if you've never seen The Fisher King, for instance, you really, really should. It’s not Mrs. Doubtfire, I promise (and come on, don't hate on that one either, it managed to be fun and make a point or two). I never did see that one movie where he played a killer in a photo booth, One Hour Photo. Just the previews scared me. I didn't want to see that much dark in my hero, even though I knew it was in there.
And then, back on Facebook, the people started to say how he left us too soon, when he had so much more to give. And I thought and thought about that. This “performer” did give, didn't he? He gave and gave some more. He struggled through addiction, depression, and kept giving and giving. Maybe, I thought, and I’m still thinking… maybe he didn't have any more to give? Maybe we’re assholes for thinking that he owed us anything in the first place, and we should be really damn grateful he chose to share so much with millions of people he never met. Maybe he was tired and spent from giving his all, and there are just no words of wisdom or memes to make sense of that.
And back to Facebook. Ah, of course. We got to the people who felt the need to point out how "selfish" suicide is, what a terrible parent someone must be to “do that to their kids” and so on. Some even invoked the wrath of God. Well, there are tons of eloquent articles floating around that will explain to you about depression and suicide way better than I can. They will explain how much bullshit those lines of thinking are, only nicely. But I know the people who should read them probably won’t.
So all I can say really, at this point, to those people sitting in judgment is fuck you. I won’t wish the pain of depression on you, because Jesus Christ, why would I do that? Because I KNOW what it’s like, and that’s enough for me to never wish it on anyone. So just, fuck you. I’m working so hard on coping with these things in my own life, you have no idea, and you never will, and you will be the first people to quote some blithe shit about walking a mile in your shoes when your time finally comes. Well, don’t walk a mile in my shoes, or in Robin Williams’ shoes. Just shut up about it. Move on, there’s nothing for people like you to see here. I'm sure there's something good on the TV.
And then all I can do is tell you about me. I've been on the cliff’s edge in my own mind, and I've seen myself driving off. And I wanted that. Yes, I thought about all the people who would be mad, hurt, ruined for life, and yet that isn't what kept me in my head and not in my car headed for the mountains. Truth is, I don’t know what did that. And I also know that whatever it was might not be there for me next time. I live with that.
Look, living your life is a full-time job. We’re all just doing the best we can, even when we’re sucking at it. Even when we’re on the couch and can’t get off. I do know that if I had driven off that cliff, I wouldn't give a rat’s ass if people “sympathized” with me, if they judged me to be selfish, or if they thought that this one single act could negate a lifetime of trying for goodness, caring, and loving my family and friends.
So, I’m heartbroken about Robin Williams, who has honestly been my hero since I first saw him on Happy Days. I finally got to see him live and up-close last year when he was doing “An Evening of Sit Down with Robin Williams & David Steinberg” in Durham. I spent money we didn't have on the best seats I could get. A lot of money. It was my birthday gift to myself, the gift of a lifetime I said, and still say. And it was wonderful.
So thank you to Robin Williams for a million laughs and tears and the light we could see in your eyes and so much more. And I’m so sorry you knew this hell.
I’ll close with my own Facebook post from that night. It will always be true.
Since I was a child, when people asked me who, living or dead, I would choose to have lunch with, my answer has always been the same. Robin Williams. That is still my answer.
*** In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ***