Its been said that laughter is the best medicine. But in the shadow of suicide, it must go down like a hollow placebo.
Why is it that those who laugh the loudest generally seem to be suffering the most? Its an answer I doubt I'll ever fully know. And its a question I can't even say if Robin Williams knew the answer to. But I guess for Mr. Williams it doesn't matter anymore. At least, I hope it doesn't.
Its sad that the ending scene of one's life can quickly eclipse the finer points of the performance. Robin Williams was hilarious. We still know that. We will always remember him for his iconic roles that take most of us back to our childhood. From Aladdin to Flubber to Hook to the INFAMOUS Mrs. Doubtfire. The comedic shoes that Williams filled will never again be properly worn. I can't help put picturing them merely collecting dust in a dimly lit closet.
Life without him will be tough.
Robin Williams was an artful comedian. But above all, Robin Williams was an artist. Something I don't think a lot of people got the chance to appreciate was the emotional depth he brought to his characters. Mrs. Doubtfire wasn't just a man dressed as a woman. Daniel Hillard, A.K.A. “Mrs. Doubtfire” was a man alone in the world going through a divorce with a menial job and children he had been told he shouldn't raise. Between laughs, Robin Williams owned the struggle of Daniel Hillard.
Shortly after hearing of Williams' passing, after his endless comedies rolled through the projector screen in my head, a new realization hit me; in retrospect, many of Williams' films were deeply ingrained in suicidal themes.
There may even be others, but these are the ones that come to my mind. All of these movies have characters that wrestle with taking their own lives. All in different walks of life. All with different kinds of pain that lead to the same hopeless conclusion.
A popular argument is that suicide is, “the most selfish act of all.” The anger in me at times like these would like to agree. But, taking a step back, it seems rather narrow minded. At the same time, though, the idea that suicide is somehow free from self-centeredness feels like the ultimate paradox.
Suicide is derived from the Latin term suicidium. Sui meaning “of oneself” (associated with se - “self”). And, cidium meaning “a killing.”
My sympathies go out to anyone who has ever found themselves in a position where suicide seemed to be an option. A position where taking one's life somehow feels welcomed compared to greeting yet another dreaded day. But to remove the “self” from suicide I can't see as possible.
Robin Williams was a husband. Robin Williams was a father of three. I don't doubt the darkness that overtook him in his final days, but the ramifications of his departure are hard for me to overlook. But, in the end, no position seems to make sense of it. Or help those left behind cope.
I'm sure around the world people throughout the coming weeks will binge on Robin Williams' movies. Some in reminiscing, some in mourning, others merely in tribute. I wish all of these people well. I hope that they'll find some peace, some form of happiness in the replaying of these films. I hope some day I will as well. But I don't doubt it will be tough.
It will be tough for all of us not to view Robin Williams through the hollow lens of suicide. Just as its tough to hear the name Philip Seymour Hoffman and not think of drug addiction. Just as its tough, close to seven years removed, to hear Heath Ledger's name and not think about the somewhat similar circumstances through which he left us.
For me, it will be tough to watch Williams' in his famous comedic roles and, in the midst of my laughter, not remember how the final scene of his life played out. But it will be far tougher to watch Williams in his darker portrayals and remember that I'm just, “watching a film” when I see that familiar, sorrowful gleam in his eyes. When I see him losing himself in a role or a role losing itself in him.