‘Dear God no,’ were the first words out of my mouth when I heard Robin Williams had died, then the tears flowed. I felt so convulsed by grief that it was like my gut had been punched – still does. I never knew him but it feels like I did, you know. Of course you know. I only have to read some of the loving tributes all over social media to know that I’m not alone in my sadness at losing this man.
When I think of Robin four vivid memories come to mind. The first is a childhood memory. The image of Robin as Mork resplendent in his red jumpsuit with silver boots. I remember running around the house repeating ‘na nu na nu.’ The second memory is of watching an episode of Law and Order SVU where he played the bad guy and I remember thinking ‘wow he does serious as well,’ and he did creepy (One Hour Photo) so convincingly too. He could do it all. He was such a versatile actor.
Then there was the time some years ago when I got to see him perform his stand up live. It was quite something to witness his energy in person, granted it was during the Bush administration so he had plenty of material, but to see his improv and watch him become these different characters – well I’ve never seen anything like it. I probably never will. What I remember from that night was laughing so much I almost peed my pants. The last memory I have is perhaps the most poignant to me being a kiwi and that was his response to the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, when he donated all the proceeds of his “Weapons of Self Destruction” Christchurch performance to helping rebuild the city. What a guy!
This all makes the way he has left us all the more shocking and tragic. Depression is real. I think of Robin as being brave for always being so frank about the demons that plagued him. I know because I live with the black dog always lurking and I get so tired of hearing someone say to me ‘I can’t believe that someone like you suffers from depression’ so as a result I don’t talk about it as much as I probably should. That’s the thing with depression it can affect any one of us at any time. It doesn’t care if you are famous or intelligent or talented. It doesn’t even matter if you are beloved as I’m sure Robin knew he was. It just is. I can only hope that Robin’s passing shines a light on the need for more tolerance and awareness of depression.
He once said ‘You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.’ Aren’t we are all lucky that he never lost his, for look at all the genius that came out of it. Thank you for being you Mr Williams. The world just got a little less funnier but oh what gifts you have left behind.