[It took a few days, but now I know why Robin Williams' death hit me so hard.]
These past couple days I've felt raw. I've felt uncomfortable, unsettled, distressed, on edge. I haven't been sleeping well, tossing and turning beneath my sheets, my mind racing.
I've been unusually upset over Robin Williams' death since I heard the news, but I couldn't quite pinpoint why. And despite this seething unease, and contrary to my normal, empath self, I hadn't yet let out a primal sob of mourning as one might expect.
But then...last night. Like a startling, sobering break through the fourth wall, last night my Facebook feed was flooded not with the normal, banal status updates of gym boasting and selfies, but with conversely weighted, gut-wrenching news story after news story from around the world. It hit me on all sides, relentlessly slamming me with a right hook, then a left hook, then a right hook, then a left. Punch after punch.
There were journalism articles about the teenage Michael Brown being shot dead in the street. About his grieving community being further beaten down by police, about them peacefully fighting for justice, all while knowing that they once again, likely won't get it. Because they're poor, and black.
Then after that, in painful contrast, a story of the time Robin Williams burst into Christopher Reeve's hospital room dressed as a Russian proctologist sent to perform a rectal exam, just to get a laugh out of his old friend facing the very real possibility of death.
After that there was the story about the young gay man savagely beaten unconscious this week and left to die in a San Francisco park. About my community back home alarmed and frighten by the rising rate of violent crimes in our city so known for its love and tolerance.
And then? Someone recounting the time Robin Williams sat down and shared laughter and late-night diner coffee with a shell-shocked family just come from their grandparents' wake. It was the first time they'd smiled in days.
Articles about children dying in Gaza, menacing threats of us bombing Iraq again, athleticism once more taking precedence over rape, Sudan refugees, Ukraine violence...
And between each of these, more personal accounts from ordinary people and celebrities alike of Robin Williams being a kind, honest, generous, compassionate man humbly spreading light and laughter everywhere he went.
These stories of his unconditional love for everyone who crossed paths with him appeared innumerable, streaming into my news feed faster than I could consume them, and yet always seemingly kept pace by other stories of tragedy, horror, unspeakable cruelty, injustice. The way these narratives of Robin's silent heroism were so evenly dispersed between news of terrifying inhumanity...for a moment it felt like Robin alone had taken on the world, made it his personal mission to do everything he could to counteract the darkness he felt internally, and witnessed externally, by beaming out his beacon of joy and irreverent silliness, and by tirelessly committing to random acts of kindness everywhere he went.
It was dizzying, this polarized influx of information, pulling my emotions every which way, but at least it felt in balance, alternately interspersed like this. For a moment it felt like we'd be all right. That there was just enough hope and sweetness in the world to get us through.
And then I came to this photo.
And I fell apart.
It was 1:30 AM and I wept in my apartment.
That face. That tenderness. That vulnerability. It ripped me to shreds because Robin's spark was one of the brightest of them all, and this week, despite his own pleading advice to us, he lost it. He lost the fight. And the world dimmed immeasurably.
The fact is, and as trite as this is to say, we need people like Robin in this world. Now more than ever. And yet even he couldn't bear it anymore.
And as Russell Brand so astutely questioned, "Is it melancholy to think that a world that he can’t live in must be broken?"
But here we are still, while he is not, left to process all the torment and unrest in the world. How can we not
feel alone? Abandoned? Hopeless? But as his family urged in the days after his death, use his life as inspiration. If even he could search through his deep, internal darkness of depression and dredge up light and kindness to share with the world, imagine what the rest of us could do. Just imagine.
So do it. No matter small or big, do it. And do it now. It's never too late, never too early.
And oh, hey: love you, noodles. It's always, always
good to mention that, too. ♥ #robinwilliams #depression #suicide