Robin Williams was a talented actor whose characters touched a common thread of compassion and understanding, well remembered in such films as Dead Poet’s Society, Mrs. Doubtfire and What Dreams May Come. However I struggle with the accolades and reverence being expressed at the moment. As much pain and torment as he might have suffered, his suicide could steer many in the wrong direction.
Some years ago, I lost a student the same pointless way, a most empathetic and delightful young man – much like Mr. Williams – and was privileged to offer these words at his funeral:
Recently I was at concert of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a South African a capella group. Their voices really are something, eight voices singing together in unison, long deep notes, short happy ones, all of these singers singing in unison. I thought a lot about B. while I listened to this music, because as beautiful as it was, I didn’t feel very good. I was off. Something was missing. I wasn’t just sad; I was uncomfortable. I wasn’t myself. And it came to me. One of the singers was gone from my life. Notes were missing. A voice was gone. I had lost B’s voice, that laugh, that insane guffaw, that wild energy exploding out, all of those over-reaching concepts, so many of them now not realized.It makes me quite upset thinking about it, not just sad, but angry too. I don’t know why I had to lose this voice.
As much as we want to debate our beliefs in this world, there is one thing we cannot dispute: this life is all we have. And I wish Mr. Williams thought more about that.