Why the Death of Robin Williams Hits Many of Us Hard

Funeral Sympathy flowersThe sad news of Robin Williams’ suicide startled me as my husband was reading Twitter and announced it just before bedtime last night. I think the first words out of my mouth were to ask why, was he so depressed over being poor and having to do a TV show that he killed himself? Having to essentially start over can be extremely depressing. To start from scratch.

I don’t know why we act like we personally know our celebrities when we don’t and get all worked up when they die. Even if I had spotted Robin Williams on the street, I probably would not recognize him because I would not expect to see him. I don’t recognize people generally who are out of their element and in places I don’t expect. Although my husband once spotted a colleague in the center of a crowd at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome gazing upward, but my mother could have shoved her elbow into my gut and I wouldn’t have known her.

When Mork & Mindy came on TV in 1978, I had recently moved from Colorado to California, and I related personally to the scenes filmed in Boulder because I had lived just up the hill in Nederland. I think all of America was mesmerized by Robin Williams back then. Anybody in her 60s today traveled through life with Robin Williams as a sidekick, even if she didn’t know him, through his movies and extensive entertainment career.

My sister said today that Robin Williams was recently in Hazelden a few weeks ago. That’s a rehab center in Minnesota for drug and alcohol addiction — and word travels fast in Minneapolis when a celebrity enters rehab. If that rumor was true, and it could have been, I can see why being sober, broke and reeling from a canceled TV series, is probably worse than being stoned out of your gourd and unemployed.

I once had to start over in my life, and it was very depressing. It was so horribly depressing that even now it’s difficult to put into words, and I had no friends who could empathize because they were all living with joy that horrible life that I was so bummed out about. I was truly alone. Even my cat had died. I was living in the basement of my mother’s house in Minneapolis, having left Newport Beach, facing a horrendous divorce from a despicable crook. No career, no income, no prospects. And winter was coming, Jon Snow.

Whenever I think I have it rough now selling real estate in sunny Sacramento, I conjure up those memory flashes from 25 years ago — like that little 19-inch television set in my room — and I am so enormously grateful for the life I have built, for my husband, friends, my career, my home. It helps to keep things in perspective and take nothing for granted. RIP, Robin Williams. We’ve lost a tremendous talent. He always made us laugh no matter what.

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