Believe it or not, but in the age of celebrity, there are actually very, very few celebrities who are nearly universally recognized all around the globe.
There aren’t very many Tom Cruises, very many Julia Roberts, very many Harrison’s Fords. There are very few that when you mention their name, nearly everyone around you has seen at least SOMETHING they’ve starred in. It’s very rare to be that well-known of a celebrity. They are not a dime a dozen.
There certainly weren’t very many Robin Williams.
I grew up with Robin Williams. I remember being mesmerized by that seemingly manic, small, hairy man. Even as a kid watching Aladdin, I knew who he was. And I knew that he was pretty special.
I remember my dad and his fondness for Robin Williams. Okay, maybe saying “fondness” puts it too lightly. But dad loved Robin Williams. It was a given that if Robin was in a movie, dad would
probably quite possibly definitely watch it.
Patch Adams. Jumangi. Man of the Year. Good Morning Vietnam. Dead Poets Society. There are plenty to choose from.
I also remember a little diddy of him, with a Scottish accent, with lots of uses of the “f” word, talking about golf. And I couldn’t believe that Patch Adams knew those kinds of words! Ah, well, neither here nor there. 🙂
I have to say, there were times I didn’t give Mr Williams as much credit as he was due. It was foreign to see him tackle darker, more serious roles later in his career. I wanted to see him dance around with the vacuum, wearing Panty Hose like in Miss Doubtfire – probably one of my personal favorites.
Truth is that as an audience, we can become so caught up in what we want and expect from a celebrity that we really, truly forget that they are people, too. Not all of them are attention seeking moguls like a certain reality show family. And many of them behind closed doors are far different from how they portray themselves on-screen.
Some of them really are passionate about turning in great performances and making their audiences happy. I honestly believe that Robin Williams was one of those celebrities. I think I may have always known that by watching him. Even for the first time in Aladdin when I was 7.
Some celebrities just seem touchable and accessible. Anyone who can dance around in women’s clothes or a clown nose and shoes has to be, right?
While it may sound like I’m jumping on the bandwagon and “mourning” for someone who I don’t really even know because it seems like the right thing to do….well, maybe that kind of is what I’m doing, I think that’s totally okay with me, though. When you love an entertainer, when their work means a lot to you in some form or fashion, it’s okay to admit that you’ll miss them. And when their death leaves you just a little bit shattered, because what you thought you knew about them turns out to not have been entirely true, you have to process that.
For so many, the image of Robin Williams chewing the scenery, turning lines into comedic gold was far from the actual image of someone desperate and lost enough to take his own life. I think perhaps that is why so many people are utterly shocked.
Like I said, perhaps there are celebrities who are more familiar and accessible than we give them credit for. Maybe this just hits too close to home, to lose Mr. Williams this way. We all wanted something different for him. Maybe because we know that there are so many people who suffer in this way, and he was no different from the next guy, despite wealth and fame and power and prestige – he was still lost. He had it “all” and yet it still wasn’t enough for him.
The reason that perhaps his passing is more personal to me, and maybe even for many others, is the nature of his passing.
I have personally been affected by suicide in my life. And I know many who also have in an even more direct way. Suicide is real. Mental illness is real. The fact that people give up, lose hope, and hand themselves over to that kind of darkness – it happens. It happens even when people don’t think it’s possible. It happens when we don’t expect it to.
It is enormously morbid, and especially dismaying. To me, it isn’t that someone loses the battle to depression, or bipolar disorder, or anything other clinical illness. It’s the idea of a person so void of hope, so wrapped up in darkness, trying to fill a hole that cannot be filled, and surmising that only death would fit the bill. That their soul hurts so bad, is so lost that there is utterly no hope.
It doesn’t happen because someone simply can’t hack it. It happens to someone who gives in to viewing destruction as a viable option. Suicide isn’t freedom. Suicide isn’t a viable option. And it is certainly never the only option.
And as much as it may leave those behind in anguish or feeling angry, it is devastating and heartbreaking for them. Devastating to think that there is something that could have been done. There are so many people who live with that reality every day. That maybe if they’d seen something or noticed something, the outcome could have been much different. And they carry that thought like a burden, always with them.
Always there. Always gnawing at them.
I am certain that as they see their husband and father turned into headlines over these next few weeks, and watch what will soon be constant speculation on his life and where things “might have gone wrong” for him, that Robin’s family will indeed be examining everything and playing things over and over from these last few weeks and days in their minds.
I know that if it were me, I would be.
But I can say this: I really don’t know if there is a moment in someone’s life where it all “goes wrong.” Chances are, this is a demon that they have battled for a long, long time. Something that perhaps has rotted them away from the inside like a worm through an apple. It’s never about just crashing and burning. Sometimes, it’s a slow fade.
I write this to be on my soapbox if only for a second. We all probably personally know at least one person in our lives affected by mental illness. Perhaps even someone who has contemplated suicide. These people battle quietly. We don’t always know the fullest extent of their inner anguish. Perhaps this person is even you.
If either of those statements are true, then please keep reading.
If someone you love may be contemplating suicide and you know as much, talk to them. Reach out to them. And reach out to someone who can help. Your loved one is worth it. Don’t do it simply because you don’t want to regret anything later. Do it also because you love them and want to reaffirm the fact that they mean a lot to you. That every life is worth living. Even their’s. Even when it doesn’t feel like it. Even when it feels contrary to every other emotion running inside of them. Even when it hurts. Point them to the light.
If you have personally contemplated suicide or are. If you’re lost. If you think no one cares. If you think you aren’t worth it. If you think life isn’t worth it. If you think this world would be better off without you. If you think you’re too weak. If you think that there is only darkness, only voids, only destruction. I have two words for you: you’re wrong.
Those thoughts are lies. And there is nothing better to counteract the lies than with the truth. Those thoughts are utterly contrary to what our Father in heaven tells us. You have a soul, you were created with purpose, you were created intimately and uniquely. You were made for more. Your life is worth it.
You are loved infinitely more than you realize. Someone loves you, someone cares for you. Even though it hurts, even though it doesn’t seem possible, life is worth living. Even when it seems wholly dark, darkness doesn’t win. There is always light.
Please consider talking to someone. There are so many people who want to help you.
If you or someone you love has or is contemplating suicide, reach out.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.