Written by, Heather Maloney
So, it has taken me a few days to even begin to wrap my head around the loss of Robin Williams. Never has a celebrity death hit me as hard as his and it feels like I have lost an uncle. My life has been bookmarked by Robin Williams and at 36 years old, I honestly feel like my childhood and innocence is now gone. When life was too much to handle as a six year old there was always “Popeye” to put a smile on my face; as a teenager I could revisit “Mork and Mindy”. The thought that there will never be a new moment of his work is almost too much to bear.
One of my earliest memories of laughter was one night was I very little. Lying in bed, my pink and frilly canopy monstrosity, I could hear my father laughing like I had never heard before. The only sound I heard besides my dad’s laughter was a funny man’s voice talking about different ways to react after stepping in dog poo. From that moment on, I always equated Robin Williams with my father and whenever I was sad or lost, I could count on his voice, and humor to make me feel at home.
Then one Sunday in 1995, I was watching “Dead Poets Society” on television, dreading having to go back to high school the next day. Right after the suicide scene ended my telephone rang and I was met with the first major loss of my life; my friend was found and had committed suicide. That movie, and especially his performance, was the first landmark of my adult life and has always meant so very much to me.
In addition to his amazing humor, Mr. Williams truly shined in his dramatic roles. “What Dreams May Come” was one of the most beautiful, devastating, heartbreaking and enlightening films that I have ever seen. As a 21 year old woman, in the midst of her first serious relationship, this film helped me to realize what I was truly looking for in life and helped me recognize what I personally believed about the afterlife. “The World According to Garp” is another performance that is not often mentioned but is truly a masterpiece in film.
My absolute favorite performance of Robin Williams is “Death to Smoochy”. The extreme dark humor of the film and especially the role of Rainbow Randolph is genius and can put a smile on my face even at my darkest moments.
The ultimate tragedy is that while his life and work gave so much hope and laughter to millions of people, including myself, he had his own demons to battle. Luckily, while I have had demons, his work has helped me process through them and laugh like I never thought I could. I truly wish that I could have given him even the smallest morsel of what he gave me and knowing that I can never repay him for his selfless gifts breaks my heart.
When I first heard the news on Monday like many of you I was devastated. To be that upset about the loss of someone you have never met is truly an odd moment, but one that shows the monumental impact he had on our lives. I felt like a helpless and lost child, so I did two things automatically. First I called my father as I needed to hear his voice. Then I sat down on my couch and started watching “Popeye”. It was in that moment that I realized only one thing could help me grieve through this moment of my life and that was the work I loved of Robin Williams; the same work that has always made me smile.
As I never met the man, his unmistakable presence helped to direct my life in a very positive way, and for that I will be forever grateful. Despite the details that come out in the future regarding his life and death, I will always admire this brilliant man and am so very lucky that my life ran parallel to his and that we will forever have his characters, his humor and his compassion as a measurement of our own.
Thank you Robin.