Yesterday most of the world woke up to the news that Robin Williams had passed away.
I was in a decidedly un-glamorous place as I scrolled through Facebook and found out for myself (embarrassing source of all my news). My subsequent scream from the bathroom caused Mr Bee to get very annoyed when he realised I hadn’t just been injured or attacked.
It is always strange when a beloved celebrity passes away. This year we have already been rocked by the passing of another favourite, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and in similarly shocking circumstances (all still alleged). Hoffman from a heroin overdose in his own bathroom and now Williams, who is believed to have taken his own life.
It’s just so very sad. I guess when you think about death at a not even that old age, you hope for something quick and painless. Tragic, of course but natural. To consider the ongoing suffering of somebody famous for making others feel better is a bitter punchline in itself.
This morning as I was stomping around the park thinking about this subject and of what Robin meant to me, I got to thinking about the joke Rorschach tells in Watchmen:
I heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.” Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.
Moral of the story: you never know.
Now, I don’t feel qualified to comment on what sort of torment must lead a person to such a hopeless place. I don’t think it’s the cowards way out though.
I know a few things about mental illness and depression, I know a bit about addiction but all my experience is second hand. I know it’s serious and that we should be able to talk about it openly, without judgment and help should be readily available. It goes further than that though and I understand this.
I just feel incredibly sad. I feel as though the world will genuinely have an empty hole in it now. Robin always felt like an uncle to me and when we spoke about him, Mr Bee and I called him ‘Uncle Robin’.
Had he been my real uncle (and I do love my actual uncles), I imagine Robin would have been able to fix anything with a hairy armed bear hug. Nothing could be bad within that embrace and nothing would ever light up the room like that smile. That laugh.
Now this is my fantasy, of an uncle I’ll never have but I’m sure his own children felt that way about him. I’m sure his friends, his wife, all his loved ones felt that way too. I hope he’s at peace now.
Rest easy, Peter Pan.