With a heavy heart, I share the news of Robin Williams’ passing. What else could I write besides this? It’s difficult to know where to start. The shock, the disbelief. Chris texted me what happened before it had really hit social media. I responded with a slew of “No, no no no, that can’t be right” and it got worse when the news confirmed it. It was that jolt in the stomach, that jarring that makes you disoriented. Was he just a celebrity? Couldn’t be because it’s hit so close. It cuts too deep. I must’ve known him. I’ve never cried over a death of a celebrity, and it seems trivial to call him that. I did cry over Robin Williams’ passing. It didn’t seem right or fair. He was just always there.
Robin Williams, of course, meant something different to my generation than it did to, say, my parents’. For me, he didn’t start as Mork, though he did make me laugh there. For me, he started as Mrs. Doubtfire, as the Genie, as Peter Pan. That’s what my generation holds him most closely as, I think. I keep searching for a word that represents him to me. Yes, a legend. Yes, a genius. For what word I want to say…is almost a guardian. A guardian over us kids to keep us laughing in the face of anything. To learn, as my friend Robyn noted, to have a sense of humor in the face of terrible times. He taught us to bravely be yourself no matter what. He was so genuinely himself that he didn’t even need to tell us to be ourselves, he simply set an example.
His movies were always our go-to’s to make us laugh or smile when we needed it. Feeling down? Just YouTube a clip of him doing impressions, voices, anything. Your lips will turn up into a smile and soon after, a laugh. It’s as if he was always there for us when we were down. He would bring back the silly into ourselves. As if he were our nanny, making sure we were okay. I suppose that’s why I reach out for the word guardian more than anything else.
He was human. And he showed his human self and his dramatic skills in movies like “Good Will Hunting” and “Good Morning Vietnam”–my favorites of his more “dramatic” pieces even though Vietnam had plenty of laughs. My friend and I will be doing a movie tribute to Robin Williams tonight. Our childhood entertainer, our guardian, our uncle. A man who would always be there despite everything. But now that is not so. Which is why I think it hurts us so badly. More than other celebrity deaths. It’s still unbelievable. I kept crossing my fingers and hoping that when I woke up this morning, it wouldn’t be so. It still was. It is part of life. Just not a part of life we want to accept so early from a generous, warm-hearted, incredibly talented man. Which is why we are all so in pain from this loss.
His heart. His warm, generous, reaching-to-all heart. It would always bleed through every performance. His most human quality was how he cared. How warmth emanated off him and surrounded us like the Genie’s hug. He taught us to use our hearts, to be vulnerable, to be ourselves. I’m still going to look at his face (which looks closest to my dad’s out of Hollywood, which doesn’t help any) and be in shock. When you close your eyes as tightly as you can, and then open them again, hoping that he will still be there. Declare it unfair and impossible. I know he will be remembered for all of these qualities listed. I know our generation will weep in his passing for losing such an amazing character, the warmest heart, and our silliest guardian. And as lines keep saying everywhere to make me cry again–Genie, you’re free. We love you.