Actor and Comedian Robin Williams 1951 to 2014
I’ve been hesitant to write anything about Robin Williams’ passing. It seemed that there was nothing that I could write that everyone else hadn’t already written. I felt another tribute with a list of his life’s accomplishments weren’t needed nor, was another “RIP” type of piece.
As with everyone else, it came as a huge shock to hear the news. Like millions and millions of people, I am and have been a huge fan of Williams and not just his work but, also the person he’s shown us to be, including the humanitarian he was so, I sat in total disbelief as I heard the details beginning to come through mainstream news channels.
It’s not as though the world is a stranger to shocking ends to celebrity sudden death news. We have watched many pass on and we will see many more also exit this planet via one method or another. After-all, though stars, they are like everyone else. As Valerie Harper of Rhoda fame has stated, “we are all terminal”.
I am not at all an expert by any means of the word, on suicides but, I have experienced the loss of a family member through the act. It hits hard. Those of us left behind, simply cannot fathom the depths of despair that must have been residing within for the person to have ended their own lives. More so, those of us left behind, will continually wonder if there was something that we could have or should have done that might have resulted in saving that person’s life. Guilt rises as we look back and try to figure out whether there were signs and somehow, we “should have known”. The departed suicide victim’s pain morphs into pain for the surviving family, friends and anyone else who cared enough about the person. Not only are we dealing with their loss but, we are also left behind to deal with guilt…something that is sometimes, more insidious and deeper cutting than the grief of the loss.
It’s not surprising that since Williams’ apparent suicide, people have spewed out the idea that it is a “cowardly act”. We are told that it isn’t politically correct or acceptable to think such a thing. I don’t condone it but, then again, I can’t totally condemn that sense of the act either. As Robin Williams once said, “it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem” for the person. Yet, it becomes a permanent problem for those left behind with both grief and guilt. It’s a situation whereby one person’s act to get themselves out of pain, puts others into pain.
That having been said, when I first heard the news of Williams’ hanging death, I couldn’t help wondering if perhaps, he had been “toying” with the idea of seeing what it might feel like but, never intending to follow through with it. His mind appeared to work in mysterious ways and, was not exactly operating on the same wave-length as others. His work was both his passion as well as one of his addictions. He feared taking the prescribed medications for his different disorders as he felt that they might affect his work and I wondered if perhaps, this was Williams either researching a role to see what might feel like without actually going through with the act and something went terribly wrong. Alternatively, I wondered if perhaps, knowing he had been suffering from depression, he might have made the attempt to see what it might feel like to attempt either method of wrist slitting or, hanging but, not actually follow through.
Of course, one can work any theory into fact with a little research and a lot of imagination.
I had recalled seeing an asphyxiation scene in “World’s Greatest Dad” where Williams had played the role of a father who had found his son, accidently asphyxiated during an erotica type of act. It eerily resembled the seated hanging that Williams, himself had employed. The death scene (where Williams’ character finds his son’s body) was hard to watch then, but even more difficult to watch now that he’s done this act himself, significantly similarly. I wondered, could he have had suicidal thoughts and decided to see what it might feel like to end life in that manner?
The cuts found on his wrists were superficial or, at least as reported. It made me wonder whether he was simply “sampling” the feeling. The question was, for what reason? Was it curiosity, driven by the depression and suicidal thoughts or a role research trial?
In searching out information about seated hangings, it appears that the weight of the head is enough to put pressure against the crucial blood and oxygen flow to the brain through the carotid artery and jugular veins, causing a passing out within a 13 second period. Even well before passing out, the person becomes confused enough that they cannot even remotely begin to reverse the process as hands become limp, thinking becomes distorted and a more forward slumping, causes enough pressure to result in death. Was it possible that Williams had simply gone too far to reach the point of no-return but, not intended it?
The lack of knowing if there was a suicide note as well as some news sources citing reports that there was no note, made it even easier to add 2 and 2 together to get 5. Maybe, there was no suicide note because suicide wasn’t intended, at least at this point in time and was purely accidental?
Then, came the news from his current wife that Williams had also been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease and was suffering greatly from both depression and anxiety. The pieces of wonderment about an accidental death began to fade as the most likely reality set into my mind. Williams had very likely ended his own life as was initially reported. Given what is slowly trickling out about it all now, I guess those of us who didn’t want to believe that he could or would end his own life, have to come to accept that It was likely no accident and his internal torture was more than he could handle any longer.
As the days have gone on since the news this week, I have often heard in my imagination, comedy skits that he might have come up with. I could actually hear Williams voice in my imagination, joking about passing over and how he did it and why. Joking about serious or troublesome issues, seemed to be a way through for him.
I pictured Williams at the gates of heaven being interviewed about being in Heaven and one of his comical monologues that might ensue.
“There seems to be a backlog of traffic into Heaven today. It’s in a Holding Pattern. Said they hadn’t expected me and, my reservations weren’t good for another 30 years so, I’m on Standby, waiting for a cancellation. Who’s gonna cancel?
Lauren Bacall just breezed through. They nearly cancelled on her…but, she made it. They stamped her passport and gave her preferred seating on the bus in.
I heard they were ready for Elvis. Gave him an all-you-can-eat buffet when he got here.
So far, Heaven’s not what it’s cracked up to be. Not that I’m a fan of harp music but, you’d think they’d have some playing, somewhere. It’s been billed as the lead musical score up here. Instead they’ve got this Muzak shit being piped in. Kind of like a mix of Soft Pop Instrumental and Heaven Metal.
I saw God. Big Dude, long beard, seems well fed, sitting on a chair. Reminded me of Santa so, I sat on his knee and asked him for a gin and tonic. He said I had to pass a Life Review first and couldn’t do it while high. I told him I didn’t know there was going to be an exam at the end or I wouldn’t have been a Life School Drop Out and asked if He’s looked over the edge of Heaven yet. We’re as fucking high as we can get!
But, Heaven is like the biggest high you could ever be on. Shit, there ain’t no crack or drug that you could buy down there on earth that gives you this kind of a high. The colors, the bright lights, the sounds, the clarity of thinking. It’s like being at a Metallica concert with a hearing aid turned up, binoculars and LSD all at the same time and it feeling good. It’s the biggest upper and eye opener you can get. Someone send some of this shit down to Rush Limbaugh.”
Williams wasn’t a part of my every day life. I still see clips of him on the television, the news, and his earlier movies, making it hard to accept that he isn’t still alive somewhere. I’m sure he is. I’m sure that there’s life that goes on beyond this one and Robin is part of it in as much peace, joy and comfort as anyone else. I don’t and won’t buy into the idea that those who end their own lives, have no place in Heaven as some religions would have us believe. But, I also want to be extremely careful to say that suicide is not an answer to problems or pain. It’s a form of escape that leaves behind people who love and care about us with a lot of pain, grief, never-ending guilt and a hell that we can’t get out of. It’s never an answer because someone is going to be left in pain. Even if you manage to escape your own in one way or another, in escaping yours, you are most certainly, going to leave others in pain or create pain for others in exchange. Who are we to decide who should have that pain and who should be out of it? Do you really want to do that to those you love?
I pass no judgement on Williams’ decision (if that was, in fact, the case…suicide as I’m still holding onto a tiny bit of doubt) to end his life. It was his to do with what he wanted but, he left behind people especially, his children who will forever be changed by his choice and decisions and, he’s left behind a world who is mourning his loss. His pain has been simply been spread out and shared with millions of others but, more importantly, those whom he was a more integral part of their lives…like his family and closest friends. I’m sure he realizes this now but, at the time, it was at a point of unbearable levels for him. My only hope is that people can learn from this tragic ending of a wonderful person’s life and that his death wasn’t in vain as we open discussion about addiction issues, mental health issues and break the stigma attached to such realities in this world. Everyone has been touched by it through someone in their lives or will be at some point. We all need to understand it so that we can find ways to deal with it other than via these means.
May you finally be in perfect peace and joy, Robin Williams…and, on the very tiny, remote chance that you didn’t intend on suicide fully, may those facts reveal themselves.
No matter which way I look at it, Robin Williams is no longer in pain…at least, that’s the way that I see things from my little corner of life.