It feels as if there is nothing more tragic than the suicide of the world’s most loveable funny-man. How can it be that behind all of that funny was a tidal wave of hopeless, insurmountable sadness? That makes me so sad.
I sift my mind for my most vital memories of Williams. Ha – there he is climbing out of his big glowing egg in that red and silver suit doing his weird alien salute. I was only a kid, but I loved that quirky Orkan and his rainbow-striped suspenders. But just now, when I looked on the internet for pictures of him in that role it’s hard to equate the handsome young man I see with Williams. It seems I may have retrospectively transplanted Williams at his current age back on Mork. The reverse is true for my own self as I get older. When I look in the mirror I find myself dragging earlier reflections of me across the years into the present – for comparison, commendation, appeasement or scorn, depending on my mood.
When I think of Williams alive I see him dressed in drag as bosomy Mrs. Doubtfire; yelling “Good morning Vietnam” over the wireless. And I see him consoling a crying Ethan Hawke in Dead Poets Society. But the most vivid memory of him is tied up with my own tears – I cried oceans of them while flying half way across the world, watching Williams as dead physician Chris in What Dreams May Come. When the hostess offered a tissue I blamed the altitude, Williams’ amazing acting and the achingly sad narrative about true love surviving beyond death. It was all of that but mainly I was just sad to be leaving London after two-and-a-half years: leaving 16 Ballater Road; leaving L’Oréal; leaving the Dog Star and the Brixton Academy; leaving the Catherine Wheel and my friend Catherine; leaving the TGV to Paris on the weekends; leaving flying to Dublin for Easter; leaving Steve and Little Bird and Simba; leaving the Jamaican guy who knew I was never going to buy a copy of The Big Issue at Brixton train station; leaving the bookshop on Cold Harbour Lane where I’d discovered Ginsberg and Kerouac and Bukowski; leaving H & M on Kensington Street; leaving my sister behind; leaving my boyfriend who thought he was going to join me back home in a few weeks but didn’t know my heart had already decided I wasn’t ready for all of that and would phone him to say “don’t come home for me”. What Dreams May Come is the soundtrack to those emotions and that blue jacaranda tree magnified my sadness until I was simply bawling.
And now I have a new sad Robin Williams memory – jumping back into the car after taking pictures of a beautiful statue of the virgin and her baby at La Nou de Gaià village (Spain) and Jez says looking at his phone:
“Oh, shit, Robin Williams is dead. Committed suicide.”
I’m devastated. I can’t believe it. And I can’t stop thinking about him alone in his apartment, contemplating death, and what it could have been that pushed him to make that final, awful, irreversible decision.
I saw that Hollywood’s Laugh Factory posted on their marquee: “Make God Laugh”. Beautiful. I’m sure he will. Thank you Robin Williams, thank you even for the sad times.