I’m not a girl who gets especially torn about celebrity deaths. They make me sad, loss of life always makes me sad. Some hit me harder than others. Philip Seymour Hoffman was one. I was hard pressed to explain why. Maya Angelou’s did because she was kinda my hero. One of the reasons I wanted so badly to write in the first place. But there’s few that make me sit down, slump, really, and stare quietly into space. Had you told me a week ago hearing about Robin Williams would do that to me, I’d have probably squinted at you. I like to think I’m harder than I am.
And yet here I am. Sitting on the floor, staring at my hands, trying to process why I feel so….gutted. Have I ever said he was my favorite actor? Have I ever even thought it? I don’t think so. But now that I am thinking about it, I have seen every. single. one of his movies. It wasn’t even a conscious thing. I didn’t see his name listed and go, “oh. I have to see this.” I just reached for them. I can’t remember a single time I walked away disappointed. Maybe I didn’t always laugh, but I always, without fail, felt something. Can’t think of another actor I can say the same for.
Nina and I were talking about it last night, reaching for each other like we always seem to do. She told me a story about a sleepover and Jumanji. I talked about Patch Adams. On Twitter, we were all talking and quoting different movies. That’s kinda lovely, when you stop to think about it. A man who gave so much and is remembered by so many different things. It’s as if he gave something personally to each of us. As if he broke his soul into pieces in order to give us all exactly what we needed.
Maybe that’s why. Maybe that’s why I’m so…devastated? Gutted? Because, for as long as long as long as I can remember, that’s what Robin Williams did. Gave me exactly what I needed. Maybe I needed to laugh or to cry or hear words I’d forever hold next to my heart. Maybe I needed to watch a street rat become a prince with his help, or play a game and get chased by wild animals. Maybe I needed light, an escape, maybe I needed to feel things that made sense and Robin Williams delivered. Like an uncle or a beloved family friend you grew up alongside, he came in and said, “Here. Let me help. I know what to do.”
And maybe it’s my mixed-up soul mourning. Maybe the little girl who grew up with the genie and turned into the woman who knows darkness aches knowing someone who was wandering in it too got lost. Maybe it is the knowing. The knowing the lows and the loneliness and the belief they will never ever end. Maybe that’s why so many of us feel like a hole was punched through our chests today. Because we’ve been tired too. Bone-tired. The kind of tired that no amount of sleep will ever fix. And we respect, admire, appreciate, all the years he gave us light and laughter, helped us to fight against a neverending night, only to lose his own. Maybe, without realizing it until last night, many of us had looked to him as our Captain. An example of someone fighting the war and winning. But now we’re left to walk the deck with bells ringing in our ears. Our hearts hurt because one of ours is gone, the way they always hurt when one of ours is gone.
Ah, but play’s still going. And we know we have verses still to contribute. It feels a little more daunting today, for me anyway. But it’s going and I should stand up now, and take my place out on the stage.
Thank you, Mr. Williams, thank you. Thank you for the verses you contributed. Thank you for being a light in our darks. Thanks for being our Captain.
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