Robin Williams – What a Life…What an Impact…

Robin Williams – What a Life…What an Impact…

Today, the same as many of you, I’m struggling to accept that Robin Williams is gone.  

I’m reading the status updates, I’m scanning the headlines, I’m reflecting on the myriad of ways this iconic, amazing, talented man touched my life.  

As with most of us that grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, I laughed at Robin Williams in Mork and Mindy as I sat in my bell bottoms and very unfortunate bowl hair cut, surrounded by shag carpet, Art Deco decor and avocado appliances.  

As an impressionable young teen the embers of idealism, political interest, and understanding of the sadness and utter devastation of war were fanned by Good Morning Vietnam.  I still have his voice in my head blasting over the radio – “Gooooood Morning, Vieeetnaaaaaam!”  I hear it echoing as I type this…

I laughed out loud with friends in college at the antics Robin Williams got up to in Mrs. Doubtfire.  I  was reminded how important Dads are in their kids’ lives and evaluated potential suitors through the lens of whether they would be a Mrs. Doubtfire for their (maybe our) kids one day.

At 24, I spent most of Good Will Hunting enjoying Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s good looks, but the scene when Robin Williams talks about his wife farting in her sleep had me rolling in laughter and mortified that THAT might actually happen.  Nearly 20 years later I’m still laughing at the memory of that scene and have to giggle when I admit I know these things do in fact happen.   As an adult, this scene (which Robin Williams changed impromptu from the script that mentioned snoring) is a reminder that embarrassing things are hilarious, people are human, marriage is about more than roses and rainbows, and the things you may be the most mortified about may possibly be what is missed when you’re gone. 

A year later, while in my mid-20’s and gazing out upon the huge world with all sorts of doors just waiting to be opened, I was inspired again by Robin Williams’ role in Patch Adams.  Who did I want to be when I grew up? What kind of mark did I want to leave on the world?  How would I know my life mattered?  

I’m still not sure I have those answers…

The Robin Williams movies that grace my shelves at home include family favorites over which we’ve laughed, snuggled, and bonded together and which will continue to set the stage for family memories to come: Jumanji, Night at the Museum 1 & 2, Aladdin, Old Dogs, Hook, Jack, Robots, RV, License to Wed, Birdcage, Flubber and the list goes on...

The amazing entertainment, the incredible wit, the absolutely unique mark Robin Williams left on the world will live long after his death. 

Saying Goodbye to Robin Williams

My Facebook stream is full of heartfelt goodbyes to Robin Williams:

I’m devastated..  I feel like I’ve lost an old friend… 

~ Chrissy 

I am sad beyond words tonight. Just heard that Robin Williams took his own life today. I grew up watching him on mork and mindy. My kids grew up with him as the gennie. He fed the poor through comic relief and uplifted the spirits of our troops. He brought us to tears of laughter in Mrs. Doubtfire, Alladdin, Good Morning Vietnam, Hook, battling Fonzie in the diner on Happy Days and of course his brilliant stand up career. He was one of the first comedians to cross over and play believable dramatic roles and made us cry in Whats eating gilbert grape, Good Will Hunting, What Dreams May Come, and the Dead Poets Society. Unfortunately, sometimes the demons we battle and hide inside win the war. It is hard to see the pain behind the smiles. I pray you find the peace and happiness in death that eluded you in life.

~ Ray 

I usually don’t comment on celebrity news, but I’m so sad to hear of the death of Robin Williams. He was a rare talent and starred in three of my favorite movies of all time…Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting. His range for comedy and drama was amazing…not to mention his support to the troops…traveling many times to dangerous combat zones to entertain our men and women in uniform. Rest in Peace…you will be missed!

~Justin 

My heart is breaking over the news about Robin Williams. Depression is very, very real. And it hurts. And it can affect anyone.

~Shannan

Totally wrecked by this, how heartbreaking. I had the immense pleasure of being on set with him years ago in NYC and again this past fall, and watching him work. I thought he was incredibly kind, in a way that you don’t often see of people of his status in the entertainment industry. Such a talented man. What a terrible loss.  

~ Laura 

Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.

~President Obama

And while I sit here saddened by our loss, reflecting on the ways Robin Williams has touched my life as well as so many others, I keep hearing over and over that his life was cut too short…he was lost too soon.  

Reflecting on Robin Williams Life

For some reason I’ve focused on this phrase:

“His life was cut too short.”

It’s been rattling around in my head, sometimes smoothly, sometimes bumping into corners and not quite fitting right.  

While I desperately wish we could have another 20, 30 or even 40 years of Robin Williams in our lives and our world, I’ve been thinking about my great-grandfather who died at the age of 104.  

At the time he died, I remember not being sad.  People would say the normal platitudes “I’m sorry for your loss.”, etc. and I’d respond that I wasn’t sorry or sad.  

He had an amazing life after all.  

Lived a full life.  

Left behind a legacy in his family and the wonderful memories of his time with us.  

Lived with passion and intelligence and honor.

Left this world better for having been a part of it. 

I didn’t want to grieve, I wanted to celebrate his life.

I’m looking at the life Robin Williams led and I see a lot of reasons to celebrate.   And while I agree that his life was cut too short, I also hope some comfort may be found in reflecting on his extraordinary life.  He did more with his 63 years than most of us would do even if we were given 1,000 years.  

So while I grieve for the darkness of depression and personal struggles he went through in his life, I also celebrate…

The mark he made.

The good he did.

The joy he shared. 

The life he lived.

That his life mattered.

It was an absolute honor to be alive at the same time as Robin Williams, to have the privilege of growing up with him, to have his example to guide us.   You will be missed. 

robin williams goodbye

6 Responses to Robin Williams – What a Life…What an Impact…

  1. You could hardly wait to watch “Mork and Mindy”. I can still see you sitting
    on the floor glued to the T.V…..Nanu Nanu….R.I.P. Robin

  2. Thank you for pointing out the need to celebrate the life of a man who gave so very much of himself. Robin Williams was a class act and I am a better person for having “known” him through the roles he played.

    • When someone’s life ends tragically it’s so easy to have that overshadow everything else. I really hope we can take comfort in all he accomplished and remember the amazing contributions he’s given. He was a special one for sure.

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