Carpe diem! and O Captain! my Captain!…phrases that Robin Williams so fully embodied that they inspired our loyalty and people of all walks to seize the day in our blink-of-an-eye lives. On August 11, 2014, we lost one of our best…a man with the courage to make us laugh and the ability to ignite our humanity. After Robin William’s death, impromptu memorials emerged as a way to express our palpable love, appreciation and grief.
He portrayed the complexity of existence even as he blindsided us with laughter and tears.
Robin conveyed our shared stories through different slants: the loving dad with a failed career and marriage; our shared fragility and resilience from the perspective of a teacher, doctor, therapist, lone leader living on the street, radio hero and his solo performance on Broadway, all of which raised our spirits and deepened our compassion.
Robin Williams was the most brilliant comic of our era with his mercurial mind and physicality. He disarmed and enlivened us with rapid-fire humor and astute observations and connections while making us laugh in the face of our mortality and circumstance.
Though suicide affects a family for generations, perhaps Robin saw this quick death as the most loving choice rather than “burdening” his immediate family with the ruthless decline that Parkinson’s exacts.
I can only imagine how difficult this choice was given his depth, courage, exceptional mind and generous heart.
And he treated others with an exceptional kindness that has been attested to repeatedly by family, friends and co-workers.
Both College of Marin and Julliard drama students benefit from Robin Williams scholarships, and he regularly broke the “normal” separation between film “artists” and “crew,” such as when he offered a crew member half of his candy bar. As he split the candy, Robin said, “Look, two bars in one!”
I offer these photographs from a memorial in front of the house in which Mrs. Doubtfire was filmed. With gratitude and love to Robin and deep sorrow for his family and loved ones.
Oh, Captain, my Captain, thank you!
And may each of you seize the day!
It is hard to understand another’s journey. One feels helpless being on the outside and only imagining what is within.