To begin with, I am sad.
I am three days over 25 and realised, as Robin died on my birthday, that I am getting to an age where people I grew up with, staples of the world I regard as being ‘daily’ to me, are leaving us by various means. Robin left by his own means, which I feel is fair enough, whereas I do simply wish that we had one more chance to say ‘thank you’. The final choice however was always his own- that is not the issue.
We may feel that owing to his last moments undoubtedly being ones of true despair, this is how we should remember him. But it needn’t be thought that his life was ruined accordingly. Nor should it be when we remember him.
He was sixty three years old. By far not long enough a time for treasuring time with those we love, but other than this; how many more years do you need? I think that 50 would do me nicely, and sixty would be great- thanks for the time, particularly in consideration for getting things done, and this is the point: Robin Williams got things done.
From a very young age he excelled, through the natural ‘different-class’ and speed of his comedic wit and persona but most essentially through the hard work that made the people we remember worth remembering. He was a young comedian at Richard Pryor’s comedy roast. You don’t think of him as having come from that era, let alone to be so highly regarded even back then, but he was. Don’t forget this whilst we also easily recall his later stand-up specials and, of course, his acting.
The fact that he straddled such a broad range of characters and genres is partly why we remember him so well. He was Mrs Doubtfire and the Genie whilst we were children, and as we grew we recognised him for his roles in the inspirational films of ‘Dead Poets Society’ and ‘Good Will Hunting’: films espousing finding your own path and celebrating life for how you live it. All whilst being painfully hilarious- giving us a chance to work out that guttural noise of hilarity that we so often yearn to yield and so rarely able to.
And this is what matters to me here- he was a man of tremendous success and acclaim and although I am aware that this acclaim is like dust on bone to a man suffering depression- it does mean that in between the worse bouts of the disease: he was happier than he might have been.
What I’m saying is that compared to others that share the disease of depression, although that cruel despair experienced is equal for all that suffer it, the times between bouts are not.
In between the sadness- Robin had his own happiness, his wife and child with whom things were no different from any other family’s love for one another. He had his career and his success which, though being no matter of consequence to his (here) fatal disease, it would have made things better between the worst of the tempests of depression. In the lighter moments, the knowledge that he was providing for his family well would have been of tremendous power, if only in the times of natural happiness.
Aged 63, loving wife and children, successful entertainment career, a long life of acclaim and interest. Robin Williams lived life, despite his condition, with a passion brought from appreciating what life is- at times joyous and always fleeting. I think it is an admirable way to live and though we all wish he was still here, had not died as he chose to and had simply not been alone on that darkest evening (for which fault can go to no one); his life was not one of woe. Often, like all of us, he was happy and he was content, at times obviously ecstatic and joyous- with the aspects of life we all hope for, though having a life-long disease.
What I’m trying to say is, although it pains us so badly to know that his last moments were of despair- that is not all his life was, and we should feel no despair because of this. There will be grief, and an unending sadness for his departure, but we there must also be acceptance in the knowledge that we’re all going to die, no matter our success, stature or condition. So let us live much as Robin did; to the full despite what tries to bring us down.
As far as I can see- Robin Williams was victorious in battling his disease owing to living the life he had. Our final moments are not all we are. I will choose to remember Robin Williams, not only as that unparalleled comedic tour-de-force and that distinguished actor (speaking of which, how much does that academy award pale in comparison to the distinction of how incompetent we are in explaining just how much he made us laugh? Apart from this description, which I feel is actually pretty on the nose. Nosed it!). I will remember him for having made for himself, amid those seas of misery, large islands of happy hope and love for life with family. I envy these islands.
Robin Williams- a sad death and a happy life. We could never understand the mind’s darkest hours, but we must think of those bright moments of his life. For us, we might assume his success was the best. In fact, I am certain that thoughts of wife and family were the successes he achieved that we should all hope to look back on some day.
And here, more than in any other medium, I say “Bravo Mr Williams”.
For living life as we all should. Remember this.
This reminds me of Stephen Fry addressing the death of Peter Cook and the media’s response to his demise, purely as it reminds me that we should remember them for their own personal happiness. The link to the Youtube video is as follows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQrTnhkQo5k
Also included is a link to Robin performing, and killing, at the great Richard Pryor’s comedy roast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCVpJ6DFqao