Monday, the country received the news that one of the greatest comedic geniuses of all time, Robin Williams, had died. It later was revealed he died by suicide. I was - I am - stunned, saddened, and beside myself. I am 33 years old and, quite literally, have grown up watching Robin. I watched Mork and Mindy on television. I've seen so many of his movies - and when you start listing the movies this man is in, that list gets to be quite lengthy. A piece of my childhood - of my life up to this point, actually - is now gone. It isn't often a celebrity's death affects me so greatly, but this time, I am incredibly saddened.
When Princess Di passed away, I cried. Heavy tears. She was such a genuine person it seemed, and now her boys had to grow up without their mother. I couldn't fathom the tragedy of her death. It was so sudden, so completely tragic. Such a surprise.
When Whitney Houston died, I cried. A lot. I had grown up wanting to be her. Her voice was incomparable. I cried not only because the world lost such talent, but because her monster drugs had finally taken her life. Was I surprised she died? Not especially. Her struggles were no secret. I was still incredibly saddened nonetheless.
Hearing the news of Robin Williams - I cannot even describe it to you: how you can never know someone but feel like you do. How someone you've never met can have such an impact on your life, on your personal culture. Sure the guy swore more than I would, had jokes that were more crude than I cared to listen to. But he was funny. He was exceptionally talented. He was the real deal. A song from Aladdin came on my daughter's Pandora station, and I teared up hearing his voice sing. He had everything a person wants at his fingertips because of his success, yet what he wanted and yearned for most, seemed completely out of reach for him.
This is not a post with any philosophical insights. This is not a political, practical, or parishioner stance on suicide. This is simply a post to say I will miss the man God created, giving him gifts of comedic genius, incomparable wit, and immeasurable talent. Those gifts weren't enough for Robin to keep going, though, and so many of us feel an inexplicable loss with his passing.
I'm not going to pretend I understood his pain. I'm not going to compare our lives or our journeys and draw parallels or make up insights. I will simply say: even when it appears you have it all, or have it all together, no matter your surroundings or your successes, your friends or your failures - sometimes you feel an intense emptiness, as if you have absolutely nothing or no one. Even the tiniest amount of hope seems completely out of grasp. As together as one may appear on the outside, the inside can be but a shell, filled only with despair and loneliness. That much I know.
I don't know the depths of his pain. I don't know the far-reaches of his sense of personal emptiness. I simply assume they existed to greater lengths than I can comprehend. The only thing I know is: you can never completely know another's wounds or scars. They are known only by the one who holds them.
Robin, I am so sorry you are no longer with us. I pray for your family and your friends, and for the emptiness they feel to no longer have you with them. As ironic as it may seem, this clip from What Dreams May Come not only makes me think of Harlynn, and how we grieve what she will never be, but also makes me think of the future we'll never have watching you perform again. Hearing you laugh. Listening to your stories. You were loved, and as you will be missed, you will also be forever cherished.