Robin Williams: He Could Make Everyone Laugh, But Not Himself

Robin Williams: He Could Make Everyone Laugh, But Not Himself
Robin Williams

A Day In the Life

Good Morning--Vietnam

Good Morning--Vietnam

Another day. The radio alarm went off at eight o’clock. A familiar voice told me what had happened while I was sleeping: the FBI was going to probe the police shooting of a teen in a St. Louis suburb. The U.S. was going to send weapons to Kurdish fighters in Iraq. John McCain was still blathering about how we should never have left Iraq and that the administration should step up their intervention in that country. A new poll shows that a majority of Americans oppose sending child migrants back to Central America. A protégé of Vladimir Putin defeated Garry Kasparov in his bid to head the World Chess Federation. And the Cubs lost to the Brewers 3-1.

When the music started, I got out of bed, put on my robe and slippers and went downstairs. The papers had been delivered, and coffee was ready. I picked up The New York Times and started flipping through the Arts Section. Nothing earth-shattering there: a book review about what happened when three women signed up for the Indiana National Guard, an interview with an author who wrote a novel about the first person to undergo racial reassignment, a new production of “A Walk in the Woods” starring a woman as one of the protagonists, and the upcoming lineup at the Café Carlyle. Across the room, Norman was devouring the “Science Times”.  I picked up my pen and worked my daily New York Times crossword puzzle.

Outside, a bevy of two-year olds began to navigate their miniature skateboards and go-cars up and down the courtyard under the watchful eyes of their elders. Older kids were busy turning the doors of the trash bins into a chalky pastel kaleidoscope. Parents sipped coffee from cardboard cups and basked in the happy squeals of their offspring.

I got up from my chair and walked to the glass door to watch them as they rode the asphalt—one round trip to the gates, another, and another. They never seemed to tire. I followed their circumnavigations and thought, “How wonderful to take pleasure in such simple games and in the company of each other.”

Then, I walked out the door to check the garden on my deck, as I do every morning. The view was the same. The leafy plants were spectacular—loving the cool weather and the rain. The hibiscus was sporting several new blossoms. And the buds on the gardenia tree refused to open. Ah well, so it goes.

On the deck: blossoming hibiscus, budding gardenias

On the deck: blossoming hibiscus, budding gardenias

The deck in full leaf

The deck in full leaf

I assure myself that nothing has changed. I hear the same sounds. I look out on the same sights. I experience the same feelings. All is as usual. Only a brilliant man and beloved comedian, Robin Williams, has died.

He was young--only 63 years old. His life should have been filled with the joy and sense of well-being he brought to so many others. Instead, he was haunted by fear and despair. He left us on August 11, 2014—a day that was ordinary in almost every way. The news reports tell us he took his own life, in a most unpleasant way. (Can self-inflicted death ever be pleasant?) He hanged himself with a leather belt. It was well known that he suffered from depression, though many thought he was holding his demons at bay. Friends and fans from all over the world have commented on his death, including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry--both of whom attested to his talent, his innate goodness and his generosity. One of best comments was posted on the marquee at Los Angeles’ Laugh Factory, “Robin Williams, Rest In Peace, Make God Laugh.”

When appearing on “The Actor’s Studio”, some years ago, Williams was asked, “What do you want God to say when you arrive in heaven?” Without skipping a beat, he replied, “There’s seating near the front. The show begins at five. It’ll be Mozart, Elvis, and one of your choosing.”

Robin Williams, Matt Damon, "Good Will Hunting"

Robin Williams, Matt Damon, "Good Will Hunting"

Enjoy the concert, Robin.

 

 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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