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    Posted August 13, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    In Memoriam

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    Meeting the Bengal Tiger

    In April 2011, I was fortunate enough to win lottery tickets to see "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo."

    When we took our seats, we were thrilled to be on the front row. We could literally touch the stage in front of us. When the curtain lifted, Robin Williams stood a mere 10 to 15 feet in front of us. Right before the show started, he looked down, made eye contact and gave us a quick smile. I remember elbowing my friend in giddy amazement.

    The play was electrifying. Although I knew Williams was an amazing dramatic actor, I wasn't prepared for the emotional journey he took us on as the Bengal tiger.

    Wearing tattered clothing, his narrative of the events in Iraq was poignant and intense, and yet, he still managed to inject moments of humor into an otherwise dark story. By the time the show ended, I was emotionally exhausted.

    Afterwards, my friend and I loitered around the stage door, hoping to say hi. There weren't many people around that evening, so when Robin Williams came out, he took the time to sign our playbills and chat with us for a few minutes. He even took a picture with me so I could send it to my mom!

    I remember being surprised at how gracious, generous and down-to-earth he was. There was no artifice, no pretense or ego. Robin Williams was genuine and exuded warmth and kindness. When we walked away, I understood why so many people loved him. He wasn't just a funny guy who made folks laugh. He was a real person who cared about those around him, even people he’d just met.

    When I heard about his death this week, I cried. To lose such a talented, kind man who gave so much to others is sad. But to lose him to suicide is simply heartbreaking.

    I hope Robin Williams knew, in the moments outside of the darkness of depression, how much he was loved throughout the world, and I hope his family can take solace in the fact that he left behind an incredible legacy for future generations to experience.
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