Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sometimes there are no words

Last night, the Mr and I were checking out at a home store when the lady in front of us callously said "in case anyone cares, Robin Williams died."  We gasped and my body literally jerked back as if she'd just kicked me square in the stomach.  The Mr and I pondered if it was his heart since he'd had so much trouble with it a few years ago.  We knew after the cancellation of his show that he went back into rehab to "maintain his sobriety", a move we both thought was so noble to catch himself before past addictions had a chance to take hold again.  When the woman received another text, she said "it was suicide."  I knew I had to keep it together until we got to the car.  We stood there stunned.  I wanted to tell her, "I will remember you the rest of my life...even if your delivery of the news sucked."  It took me back to losing John Ritter and the devastating loss I felt then as well.

I think the reason I cried like I'd lost a family member is because I grew up with Robin.  He has been with me in every stage of my life.  I had the biggest crush on him in Mork & Mindy.

I'd go around saying "nanu nanu" or "shazbot" (this coupled with Gomer Pyle reruns saying shazam must've driven my mother up a wall) and I even stuck around when they jumped the shark with Mearth played by the amazing Jonathan Winters.

If you or someone you knew had HBO back in the day, you did anything you could to sneak a peek of the acts in Comic Relief in the mid-80's.

That material definitely wasn't Mork calling Orson and as a kid, it was about as thrilling as a boy of the same age catching a nanosecond of boob on the scrambled channel.  Comic Relief raised and distributed over $50 million for the homeless in the United States and Robin donated his talent to the cause.

As I perused his IMDB page, I realized, there were a ton of 80's movies of his I missed out on because they were over my head at the time.  Movies like The World According to Garp, Moscow on the Hudson, Good Morning Vietnam and Dead Poets Society have all been bumped very high on my "movies we should see" list.

Of course, there is no better role, in my opinion, than the incomparable Mrs. Doubtfire.

It is one of several movies that I can stop to watch no matter what point it's at when I'm flipping channels.  It still makes me laugh...still makes me cry.  I still quote it like it was released yesterday and will quote it when I see Mrs. Doubtfire staring back at me in 30 or 40 years in the mirror.  Robin's talent was ridiculously apparent in that movie and I was thrilled to have visited the Hillard home (on the corner of Broadway and Steiner) when we were in San Francisco as well as many different film locations from the movie including Bridges Restaurant.  I never thought when we ate there a few months ago that reading the Mrs. Doubtfire poster he signed near the bathrooms would be the last time I would read his words while he was alive.

A few of his more serious roles, are some that I really liked as well.  One Hour Photo and Insomnia are among my favorites that show the range of his talent and I love that he took those roles despite their dark undertones.

I forced myself to watch The Crazy Ones despite only liking Robin in that cast but the parts the Mr and I looked forward to the most were the credits when they rolled the gag reel for the episode.  I would laugh so hard at him and often dreamed of what it would be like to just have one day to watch him work, hang out with him or just have a serious conversation with him.  He seemed like he was so full of insight and I wouldn't need him to be "on" to enjoy his company.  He just seemed like a genuine, beautiful man but as with many comedic geniuses, there can sometimes be pain or situations we just can't grasp.  I find myself flipping back to my homepage hoping to read that this is some internet hoax.  That just like hundreds of other celebrities who have "died" and tweeted "sorry, still here!" that there is some chance this is all just a bad dream.

There are some celebrity deaths that make you say "awww" or "that's too bad" and you go on with your day.  Then there are ones that feel like losing a member of your own family.  Ones that you know will take some time to get over and when it's in such a manner, it's even more devastating.  I have seen the headline hundreds of times by the time you are reading this and it still doesn't even begin to compute in my brain.  It's as though my head cannot even fathom such a loss.  I think of how he talked about how proud he was of his grown children and how much they taught him about life.  How happy he seemed with his wife.  The Mrs. Doubtfire sequel that was finally green lit after 20 years that will never be.  The body of work left behind that won't be added to in the future.

The details of his death are still emerging and in the end, we're not going to get the answers we seek. We'll never know why.   (Edit:  while we'll never fully know, this update may shed some light on why.)  We are left to speculate and to mourn.  We can also learn to look for signs if there are any in people we know, in ourselves.  Depression can be treated and managed but for some, it is a lifelong struggle.  I have gone through it after losing family members and thankfully pulled out of it.  But there is one bad decision in a moment of desperation that takes depression from something that can be dealt with to an irreversible loss that can't be taken back.  I can only pray that he has found the peace that eluded him here and send my deepest condolences to those who knew him well and were lucky enough to call him friend.

But the laughs won't stop.  As long as we have videos and video channels, Robin's work can be enjoyed for decades to come by young and old.  He would want us to laugh.  (NSFW-language)  He would want to know that on someone's worst day, some joke he told helped them through it.   I will be watching a lot of his comedy over the coming days as this story takes the twists and turns that unfortunately come with this kind of end.

Robin, thank you for your gift.  Thank you for making my childhood and adulthood a little more bearable with your humor and crazy antics.  I never looked forward to Letterman more than when I knew you were on because it was going to be a show.  I pray that when you made your way to the great beyond that the house band didn't play "Rockin' Robin" because you suffered through enough of that here to last several lifetimes.

"All my love to you poppet...you're going to be alright.  Bye bye."

What is your favorite Robin Williams role?

If you or someone you know needs help dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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  1. It is just a kick in the gut. Many of us are expressing the same sentiments. While most of us didn't know him personally it feels just like losing a family member in some way. Many of us grew up with him and have almost always counted on him to make us laugh and now what do we do? But for someone who brought all of us peace with his works, I hope he has finally found his own peace. Thank you Robin. Nanu Nanu!

  2. Mrs. Doubtfire, hands down, favourite role he's done.

    Thanks for sharing this. He really has impacted many people in the various roles he's taken on in his career. Gone too soon.

  3. I am crying as I read this. I can't pick a favorite - there are just too many. I've been a fan since Mork & Mindy. You definitely have to see The World According to Garp (great performance by John Lithgow, too). Robin Williams did a serious role on SVU that was amazing. The work he did for Comic Relief and for the troops...it just goes on and on. What a loss! My heart breaks for his family.

  4. I took the news like a blow too. Like you, l scoured the internet hoping to find out that it was a Jackie Chan like hoax.

    I didn't see World According to Garth or Moscow on the Hudson so I'll have to look for those. Good Morning Vietnam is hard to watch, but I've seen it several times, and Dead Poets society is powerful.

    I watched The Crazy Ones too. Sarah Michelle Gellar has been a favorite of mine since forever so the chance to see them together was one I jumped at.

    I don't know that I have a favorite role of his, he played so many and such a variety. I think I'll remember him best for his stand-up.

  5. Just terrible, unbelievable news. He gave so much to this world, our memories, our culture. Such a sad way to lose him.

  6. My tears are flowing this morning too, for a life cut short, a magnificently talented life. Thank God we have Mark, and so many movies, comedy specials, and appearances on talk shows, to remember Mr. Robin Williams forever. I wrote my own blog about him this morning, about the irony of physical versus mental health. Some of us, like my Du, wishing we could be healthy so that we could go on living, with people like Robin, struggling with his mental health, choosing to die long before his time. As Jenny Field who played his mother in Garp, my favorite Robin Williams movie, said, "You know, everybody dies. My parents died. Your father died. Everybody dies. I'm going to die too. So will you. The thing is, to have a life before we die. It can be a real adventure having a life." Thanks for the great adventure Robin. Keep 'em laughing up there!

    1. MORK, not Mark. Mark is my oldest son, and he is on my mind this morning, as he is struggling with his own battle with depression. God bless them both.

    2. I'm sorry to hear that dupster. I hope your son has better luck finding a path through it.

  7. Hands down, my favorite Robin Williams movie is World According to Garp. He was so flawed and so beautiful and so different from the frenetic Mork I had known up to that point. Birdcage is Classic and Moscow on the Hudson shows a quiet, tender side of him that was unexpected.

    I really want to do a marathon and watch the movies mentioned above, then his Actor's Studio interview, his episode of Louie (perfection), and end it with Aladdin and a few of the comedy specials, just to shake off the serious. I need to avoid another fave, What Dreams May Come. It was heartbreaking and a little too on point to watch right now. I'll watch it again soon though and picture him bounding through painted fields and reconnecting with loved ones, leaving the pain behind.

    I feel so bad for his family. They can't even get a few hours to mourn without helicopters and photographers hovering.

  8. SO sad... He was one of the greatest! I loved Mrs. Doubtfire, but I was telling hubby this morning that Dead Poets Society and Good Morning Vietnam are among my absolute favorites of his. Birdcage is hilarious, and I've seen many Comic Reliefs. He will be missed.

  9. You said exactly what I feel...I would have to say that his loss has probably hit me the hardest a celebrity loss ever has. It just breaks my heart especially when you consider what was hiding underneath the funny guy veneer. You just never know...

  10. I also was thinking of the Robin Williams movies that I hadn't see that need to be seen after I heard the news. I can attest for Dead Poets Society and Good Morning Vietnam--both great but I also have not seen Moscow on the Hudson or The World According to Garp. Need to have a movie marathon in my house too. My girls love Mrs. Doubtfire so although young, they were sad to hear the news too.

  11. I saw it last night pop up on Bing and I thought I'd faint. I bawled until about midnight just thinking about how much he must have suffered. I related on a very personal level with living with someone who has addiction/depression issues and it's not a matter of "just snap out of it"--it's far deeper and painful than that for the person who feels that they are drowning. I fear pretty much on a daily basis what I'm going to come home to because that kind of depression is truly life-threatening. As far as my favorite role, I think it was just Robin as a whole. I've been listening to interviews with him and he had such insight with so many things and I loved when he was talking to Diane Sawyer in 2006 about rehab--such honesty and I think it will help people who have no clue about addiction maybe having a better understanding. He could make me laugh in an instant--and I agree, the outtakes from The Crazy Ones were hilarious! I will say my favorite "serious" role of his was in Dead Poet's Society. I just watched that again a couple of months ago and I was just so lost in his character's passion. I've been in a somber mood all day and this one is going to stick with me for a long time. From Happy Days to M&M to his standup routines, to interviews, to his most recent role in The Crazy Ones (he said he purposely had his character be a recovering addict because he could put his own experiences out there), he was just an amazing man. There are few people who could bring others such pure joy and laughter each and every time you saw him. This one is going to hurt for a long while.


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