- Posted August 19, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Why I will miss Robin Williams
For as long as I can remember I have had a constant companion that has traveled with me through life – depression. Through some very expensive therapy I came to realize that as early as third grade this companion may have joined my life’s journey. It followed me through junior high, high school and college. I spent most of my early life feeling like I was in a fog, swimming through glue, always two steps behind everyone. I exhausted myself trying to convince everyone else that everything was okay. As I grew, so did my companion. By my mid-20’s it had consumed me to the point of nearly extinguishing my life. Waking up each day was disappointment. Near my 27th birthday I sat alone in my apartment, contemplating once again, what would be the most efficient means of ending my life. Each other time, yes there were other times, my failure spurned a depression far greater than before. This was one of the countless conversations that I had with myself and one of a handful that I was certain I would follow through. As I drove to the coast, the CD – Robin Williams “A Night at The Met” was in the stereo. I had heard the routine countless times, but still found myself laughing as if it was the first time. A few miles from the beach, that simple 53 minute monologue from the world’s funniest human had me believing “If I could laugh I could live.”
Since learning of his passing, I've come to realize that Robin Williams had also been a companion in my life. After seeing him for the first time on Happy Days, I was hooked. I was simply drawn to that hurricane of humor and mesmerized by the path it took. Each project he produced I had to experience - if it was a movie I tried my utmost to be there opening day, if it was a live performance I had to own a copy of the recording, if he was on a late night talk show I had stay up to watch it. I even went to casting cattle calls for a couple of his movies, hoping I might be an extra somewhere in the background and be able to watch the wizard from afar. One of my greatest memories was buying a scalped ticket to a “Robin Williams - Working on Material” show in San Francisco. Because I could not convince any friends to spend the $175 for a ticket I went alone. I was so glad I did. The usher needed to fill a single spot near the front of the stage and I was able to sit less than 12 feet from the wizard for 3 hours, 3 amazing hours. His humor, his life could always put my haunting companion in its place.
One night, after attending a Whoopi Goldberg performance in San Francisco, my friends and I did our best stalker impressions by waiting at the side exit hoping to get a glimpse of a queen of comedy. I didn't realize I was leaning against a chauffeured town car until I noticed a woman patiently sitting in the back seat. I had one of those “I know her from somewhere” moments (not making the connection she was Robin Williams’ second wife). Then I saw him walking toward me. He was very hospitable, signed a few autographs for the small crowd. While he shook my hand, I was completely flustered and I believe what I said was “Mr. Williams, when life was kicking my ass and I didn’t want to go on, your comedy taught me if I could laugh, I could live. Thank you.” To this day I have no idea he understood what I said or if his response was “Don’t’ give up hope” or “Glad I could help”. Either way, I was able to say “Thank you” no matter how brief.
Last week, when it came to light that Robin Williams' own companion consumed him, it was more than sadness I felt. Part of me was angry and wanted to reach through to whatever eternity he is in, grab him by his Hawaiian print shirt lapels and scream “How dare you give up!” – Part of me felt a bit guilty because there was no way I could have ever reciprocated the positive impact he had on my life – Part of me began to doubt because if a man with family, fame and fortune was overpowered by his companion, what chance do I have? As the shock of his passing fades, I find myself re-reading the magazines about him and watching his movies, sad to know there will be no more of him to share with the world.
People often say that suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem. However, I believe those people do not truly understand what it is like to live with acute depression and that sometimes there are only temporary solutions for a permanent problem. I am grateful to Robin Williams, who through his death gave the world an opportunity to start a dialog about depressions, and who through his life taught me if I could laugh, I could live.
It has been said that we all experience three deaths; the first is when our body ceases to function, the second is when our body is placed in the grave, the third is sometime in the distant future when your name is uttered for the very last time. If that be the case, Robin Williams will live on for a very long time.