An Anniversary of Sorts

Two years ago, the world lost a great entertainer. On August 11th, 2014, we all found out about Robin Williams’ passing, and the manner of his passing.

I was at the Nine Inch Nails concert in Tampa. It was supposed to be a fun, memory-making occasion – I had loved them since 1995, yet had never seen them live. Somehow I was either always broke, or had some other feeble excuse. in 2014, I bought tickets for me and my then-boyfriend, who wasn’t a fan. In a weird way, I was trying to reach out to him. Our relationship had been on the rocks for most of the year, for lots of reasons, none of which I will go into here.

Sometime between Soundgarden’s set and NIN coming on, the news hit. It went through the crowd like wildfire, I suppose because it hit the newswires about the same time. Still, the show went on, and for many reasons, some mentioned and some not, it was one of the most memorable shows I’ve ever seen.

Mr. Williams’s death still too big a thing for me to address. I don’t have the hours to find the perfect words that would tell you what his career and battle with alcoholism and mental illness meant to me, a stranger who never met him. You probably already know, quite honestly.

A few months after he died, I watched World’s Greatest Dad. I knew it was a dark comedy, but I had no goddamn clue just how dark. Casual human ugliness is on display, along with selfishness, spite, and all those other shitty things that some people seem to take for granted as part of life. Robin Williams stars as a divorced dad whose son is a bona-fide piece of shit teenager.  After taking some secret upskirt photos of his dad’s girlfriend, the kid goes home to beat off, tries auto-erotic asphyxiation, and dies. Williams’s character comes home, finds the body, and tries to give the kid some dignity by moving the body into the closet, to make it look like an intentional suicide. He writes a beautiful suicide note and plants it on the body. The note kicks off an outpouring of love for the ‘misunderstood teen’ and Williams’s character keeps up the pretense by creating a fake journal of the boy’s thoughts, misappropriating the cult of personality that grows around his son’s death and leveraging it into a book deal, fame, and fortune. His success is hollow, though, and has won him acclaim from people who otherwise don’t understand or appreciate him.

It’s a pretty ugly watch, to be honest. It has a lovely ending, but getting there was tough.

And yet, in the midst of all that darkness was the message:

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.”

I took that message to heart. Since then, I’ve worked hard to become a good friend, and be worthy of the good friends I’ve made in this life. I surround myself with positive people of similar interests, and do my best to be there for them both when they need help, and when they don’t.

Anyway, sorry this post went emo. I saw the calendar and realized it had been two years since Mr. Williams had passed and wanted to mark the occasion, but also mention something positive. I know I never met him, I know he had no idea of my existence whatsoever outside of being just another face in the crowd of his fans. But I wish I could tell him what his death meant to me.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling to keep going, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or visit their website.  

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Author: jennnanigans

Orlando-area writerly person.

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