I came home tonight, exasperated and overwhelmed after the first long day back at work. I felt defeated, angered by the educational machine, and utterly exhausted with the amount of items I have chosen to chide me on my to-do list.
And then as I absently checked my Newsfeed, usually swamped with baby pictures and former-student selfies, the news emerged and violently stole my attention.
In a world riddled with sadness, a lightness embodied by Robin Williams feels like a loss fathoms deep. My generation can tell the tale of 9/11, remember Princess Diana’s grace, and mourn the beginning of a string of school shootings that began with Columbine. We feel the loss of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. But somehow, the melancholy that resonates with the news of Robin Williams’ passing is as personal as losing a best friend.
I recall fondly laughing with my Mom as we watched him in The Birdcage. I desperately wanted a nanny as sassy as Mrs. Doubtfire. If I could have joined Pan at the table and thrown food as he rediscovered his youth and his imagination, I’d have lived a full life. And of course, I seek inspiration from John Keating and his influence as a teacher of English and literature in Dead Poet’s Society as I design my own lessons. Robin Williams was a man who breathed life into the lungs of his characters and allowed us to cling to them in our realities.
I have forgotten the menial upsets in my day, and have quickly been righted by the news of this loss. Once again, Robin’s death is a reminder that depression is a disease, and it must not be stigmatized and condemned. We must treat this as we do diseases of the flesh, and allow diseases of the mind the same acknowledgement.
Often times, in death we become glorified. But Robin Williams experienced this in life as well. A man of good character and moral righteousness, he earned the respect of the masses by allowing his humor to heal, rather than to wound. He is remembered for his talent, his wit, and his genuine concern for the human condition.
My generation will recall this day when we show our children and grandchildren Aladdin, Hook, and Jumanji. We will discuss his role in Good Will Hunting, What Dreams May Come, and Good Morning, Vietnam! when our friends discuss the most moving scenes in cinematic history. And when we need a laugh, we will look to YouTube to replay his Johnny Carson interview and escape our daily troubles.
Robin Williams, thank you for the laughs, the movies, and the memories. You are a part of our childhood and our future, as it is true that a legend never dies.