20 August 2014

Saying Goodbye to my Childhood Hero

I don't think I have come across anyone this week who hasn't been affected by the devastating news that broke last Monday night and for most of us on this side of the Atlantic Tuesday morning - that the amazingly talented actor Robin Williams passed away at the age of 63. 

For me Robin was my childhood hero and even up until a few weeks ago I found myself scrambling through my DVD collection whenever I felt down to play some of his greats - Hook, Aladdin, Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji!

Celebrity deaths don't tend to affect me much - sure I have a moment of despair and thanks for the great characters they have portrayed which so many of us have fallen in love with - but then, there is also that moment of clarity when you tell yourself "death happens" and life inevitably moves on. Robin Williams was the one exception for me - I almost feel as if I have lost a close family member.

When I initially heard of his death I was actually camping with a friend of mine (more like glamping then camping but you get the idea). There was a particularly hyper group of teens in a tent near ours who had obviously had a little bit too much to drink! As they made their way to their tents they began screaming "Robin Williams is dead! Robin Williams is dead!" Having already been asleep and waken by this I was furious!! All I could think to myself was "They're drunk! They clearly don't have a clue what they're talking about!" and I proceeded to try and go back to sleep. They continued partying so in attempts to tire myself out I grabbed my phone and low and behold lit up on the screen was the announcement from Sky News that Robin Williams had in fact passed away. I sat up in my camping bed and just sat their quietly for a moment before telling my husband that they were right - that Robin Williams had died. Shane just put his arms around me and said "I'm sorry - I know how much you loved him." 

We just lay there for a few minutes before my phone started buzzing again with the Sky News App announcements - "Robin Williams has died in suspected suicide". I couldn't even speak - I just passed the phone to Shane and he responded the same way. 

How? Why? That word just causes a chain reaction in my brain as I scramble to understand the complexities of a life lived in which a person feels that things have become so hopeless. As many of you know, my family has been greatly affected by mental health and the devastating chain reaction a life lived with depression can have both mentally and physically. I have seen first hand a person who I love linger in the doorway of darkness - wanting to stay in our world but longing for the peace of the next. I would like to think to some extent that I have a better understanding of mental health yet still when I hear someone has gone to the extremes of taking their own life there is part of me that still cannot quite come to grasps as to the how and why!

All I know now is that the how and why in this instance are not important. What's important is that the world not mourn but celebrate the life of this wonderful man who so many of us grew up with. He was our Genie, our mentor, our nanny, our bangarang Peter Pan. 

So to Robin I say - thank you for the memories - I will cherish them and pass them on to my children and my children's children. Thank you for teaching me to believe in myself and follow my dreams, for teaching me that no matter how hopeless things seem you have to keep playing this game that is life. It breaks my heart that you couldn't stay with us longer but I know you are happy now and hope you felt the love we all felt for you.

I don't want to say Goodbye because "goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting". So instead I'll say goodnight Robin <3 You left your mark on this world now go start a new adventure in the next.

"You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? 
That's where I'll always love you Peter Pan. That's where I will be waiting." 
- Hook 1991
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