I usually don’t post much when a celebrity dies. But Robin Williams is different. He’s a big part of my childhood, and I never realized until he passed, just how large of a place he held in my heart.
Growing up, my mother, brother, and I used to sit in front of the TV and watch Mork and Mindy every week. And whenever they played re-runs. And of course his movies I don’t remember watching The World According to Garp until I was older. Then there was Aladdin. I love that Disney let him improvise the majority of his lines because they were just so good. Robin made that movie what it is. Someone posted a picture of the end where Aladdin sets Genie free and I cried for a good 30 minutes afterward.
Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire (not one of my favorites, but still good), Hook, One Hour Photo and so many others. One thing that made an impact was a stand up my mother and I watched one night on either VH-1 or MTV of Robin at the Met in New York, sometime in the late 80’s. Dad was asleep I think, and let me tell you it was nearly impossible to keep quiet. We laughed so hard, tears streamed down both our faces and we would crack up for days afterwards just thinking about the skits and looking at the other would send us into fits of giggles. That’s the first time that I laughed so hard that I stopped breathing. My diaphragm froze up or something. I don’t know but it scared the heck out of me.
Fast forward to 2008. The hubby and I and the hubby’s best friend were leaving San Francisco. My two friends had already left to go home and it was the three of us going through security. I was the first one through and sat on the bench putting my shoes back on waiting for the other two. I look up and see a man sitting on the bench across from me. He’s wearing a cap, a black t-shirt, black windpants and black tennis shoes. A man trying to blend into the crowd. What made me notice him? His arms. Those hairy arms that he always made fun of. Then I looked at his face. Yep, not daydreaming. I’m sitting across airport security from Robin FREAKING Williams!!!! It was funny because on our tour of the city the previous day, the guide mentioned that Robin was a resident of the city and that people frequently saw him around town. I just knew we never would see him.
The hubby finally emerges from the line and sees the look on my face. I cut my eyes toward the man on the bench and he looks down and the look on his face says “No way!” I nod emphatically, hoping I’m not calling attention to the man on the bench trying so hard not to be noticed. The hubby sits down a few feet away. Robin looks up, the hubby says “What’s up?” (No joke, just a nonchalant ‘what’s up’ to the biggest freaking comedian on the planet). I think he said Robin said “Not much” then continued on to either his flight or a private lounge. We couldn’t really see because we were still waiting for hubby’s friend to get through security. Turned out, they searched his bag because of the Pringles can of beach sand that showed up on the x-ray.
Anyway, I’ve had people tell me “It didn’t happen if you didn’t get a picture”. Well, it did happen. And there’s no photograph because I recognized this human’s need for a bit of privacy and lack of attention. I’d like to think he knew I did that for him because I saw that need and that his head nod toward me was enough for me as a fan. Would I have loved to talk to him? Absolutely. But me getting to talk with him wasn’t as important as me respecting his unspoken wishes. And I really hope he knew.
No one but Robin will ever truly know the thoughts and feelings that coursed through his body. No one should sit in judgement of the way he chose to deal with those thoughts and feelings. I certainly won’t. I choose to remember the memories he gave us and the memories of my family members who have passed and shared my memories of Robin. He was a special man. A bright light on this Earth that lit the darkness for many of us, if even for a short time. None of us know the journey another has taken. We can only offer them kindness and an ear to listen or a shoulder for support until they can move forward again.
In this world of hyper-connectivity, we’re losing the personal touches and some feel even more alone than before. Please do not judge…listen, connect.
Thanks for all the feels, Mr. Williams. You will be missed.
I’ll always keep you right here. ❤