Today I am immensely saddened by the loss of an amazing man – Robin Williams. Not only a man of immeasurable talent but immeasurable heart as well. As a co-founder of Comic Relief, he, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal brought the topic of homelessness into everyone’s consciousness as well as their living rooms. He was a donor and spokesman for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and spent countless hours with American troops.
Robin Williams crossed many lines in his comedy and his acting, the biggest one to me was the line making stars untouchable. Robin was the first celebrity that you could picture being at the parent-teacher conferences, at the grocery store or even in your home. He was the guy that no matter if you agreed with his politics, you would love the opportunity to sit down and have a beer or a cup of coffee with him and just talk. He was an anybody and an everybody and everything in between.
He not only appealed to our children but to the children in all of us, letting us know it was okay to just have fun every once in a while. His movies made me cry like no other… The Fisher King was the first one to really put its hooks into me and not let go. While I’ve been a fan of his ever since his walk on role on Happy Days and his subsequent spin-off of Mork & Mindy making him a household name, The Fisher King was the one that showed me not only the depth of his acting but forced me to see the depth of my own feelings as well.
I don’t think that there’s a single person who watched Dead Poet’s Society who didn’t wish they’d had a teacher like his Mr. Keating or reminded us of our own Mr. Keating. More importantly he inspired us to be Mr Keating. That’s really what it’s about isn’t it. Touching someone with your passion? That’s what he did, both as himself and as the many characters he portrayed on-screen.
Unfortunately, depression does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter race, creed, color, age, size of your bank account or the number of accolades on your shelf. It leaves you alone and in pain. For those of us who have wrestled those demons, we know what he was going through.. yet something else that he has managed to share with us as well. Like I said, he was an anybody and an everybody… and anybody can suffer depression and everyone knows someone who has… whether they realize it or not.
So please, if you’re struggling with depression.. tell people. Let them know. Don’t worry that they’ll judge you, what matters is that they know you deal with this horrible burden and that you might need help. We all need help in that wrestling match and its okay to seek help. Remember, if you’ve made it this far you’ve got a 100% success rate in battling depression.
To Robin Williams’ family, I wish to offer you my sincerest condolences. Your loss and pain is the greatest of all. Suicide not only leaves a trail of grief, but a trail of guilt in its wake as well. Please know that there was nothing that you could have done. This was a battle that only he could fight and unfortunately he lost to a formidable foe. I hope he has found the peace he was so desperately needing and I hope you find it as well.
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
The arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.