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Sunday, August 17, 2014

It Feels Like We've Lost a Good Friend

For most of my life I have not been too bothered by celebrity deaths.  With few exceptions, most of the people who passed were really old celebrities who were famous way before my time so there was no real emotional connection for me.

The first celebrity death which I remember being very saddened by was John Candy.  He died in 1994, two years after I graduated high school, and I just remember feeling it was a big loss for Hollywood as he was such a great actor, and so funny.  Even in the years following Candy's death, I still felt a disconnect with most actors and singers who died - it was just the name of a person who I vaguely remembered, if at all.

Then in June, 2009, Michael Jackson died, and suddenly, celebrity deaths were not just actors and musicians I'd never seen or heard of before.  Now those deaths meant something - it meant the loss of an actor, singer, performer, etc. that I not only had heard of, but admired, loved, respected, or watched / listened to as a kid.  Someone I felt like I knew.

I can recall to this day, over 5 years later, the where's, the when's, and the how's of Michael's death.  I was still working at the IT Helpdesk for AHS Information Services when I got a breaking news alert email stating there were reports that Michael Jackson had just gone into cardiac arrest.  I don't know what it was, but just from that one little sentence in an email, I knew he wouldn't make it.  I immediately started instant messaging with my co-workers that Michael Jackson had gone into cardiac arrest, and I was pretty sure he would not make it.  It was more than 15 minutes later before the news broke on CNN, and not too long after that they reported he had died.  I was so profoundly saddened by his death.  I loved Michael Jackson's music throughout my childhood and teenage years.  He went on to release music I wasn't crazy about, but I never doubted that he was a musical genius, and I would still listen to his older music on occasion.  I knew he was a very troubled soul, had a lot of mental issues, and was probably miserable much of his life, but I never doubted for a minute that he was a good person.  I never bought into all the rumors and allegations of child molestation, etc that plagued him in the later years.  He was more like a child himself than anything.  He just didn't get that he was sometimes crossing boundaries he should not have crossed as an adult.  I think in his own mind, he was still trying to be a kid - something he never got to experience when he was a child due to his meteoric rise to fame at such a young age.   

For several weeks after his death, I would listen to his greatest hits in the car, and I could often feel tears coming to my eyes because I felt the world had been robbed of his genius far too soon.  Of course, I was also pregnant and very hormonal at the time so I am sure that played a part in my emotional state, but I just couldn't believe he was gone.  It took me about a month to move past his death...

And now, flash forward to this last Monday, August 11th, 2014.  Randy and I had just finished eating dinner, we happened to have the news on, and our jaws literally fall open as the news anchor reports that actor / comedian Robin Williams has been found dead in his northern California home.

No, this just cannot be....there has to be some kind of mistake...a sick joke that will be cleared up in a matter of minutes!  I run to the computer to pull up CNN and see what they say because...well, they know everything...and, it wasn't there!  Whew!   Okay, yes, it must be some kind of outrageous, false report. Then, minutes later, I check again, and my heart sinks.....it's true.  Robin Williams has been found dead in his home from an apparent suicide.

For the last week, Randy and I have been reeling from the news of his death.  It has affected us more than any other celebrity death that I can think of - even Michael Jackson.  Not only were we huge fans of his movies and his comedy, but we very much admired the amazingly kind and generous person he was. Celebrity after celebrity have made statements about how shocked and saddened they were to hear of his untimely death, but it seems the manner and circumstances surrounding his death are what has been the hardest to accept.  Suicide.  Robin Williams, so very brilliant and talented in making millions laugh, could not make the most important person in his life happy - himself.  

As has been revealed in the days since his passing, he suffered for many, many years with severe depression, had multiple bouts with substance abuse, and had just recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. What a heavy burden he was carrying around with him on a daily basis - one that most people, even some of his closer friends, did not realize was becoming such an unbearable pain that he felt he had no other option than to take his own life.

We have been immersing ourselves in everything Robin Williams that has come on TV over the last week, and it has been so hard to see him on stage performing, or hamming it up on Mork & Mindy, or to not break down in tears while listening to his character come to life in Aladdin.  We are immensely saddened and heartbroken - it feels like we've lost a good friend.  


7 comments:

  1. This is exactly what I think and feel - all your notes and thoughts about Michael, about Robin!
    I watched "Night at the Museum" yesterday and the few words written at the end of the movie were "remembering Robin Williams" - they brought me to tears again.

    It feels like we've lost a good friend!

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    1. Lia, thank you for your comments. Yes, it is tragic, and I still cannot believe he's really gone.

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  2. A beautiful tribute to Robin Williams. You captured so well how many fans are feeling, Penny. Robin Williams was known for comedy, but he could also play dramatic / thriller roles, too. Law & Order: SVU (Authority) and One Hour Photo (2002) showcased the range of his talent. He will long be missed. ~ Lani

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    1. Thank you, Lani. I agree that One Hour Photo was a huge departure from his normal characters, but I loved seeing him in such a different role too. It will be quite some time before I'm over this one. :o(

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    2. Whenever that episode (Authority) of Law & Order: SVU airs, I always watch it, because Robin Williams' performance is so riveting to me. Now in hindsight, the conclusion of that storyline is so poignant . . . ~ Lani

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  3. Celebrity deaths don't affect me much either, with the exceptions of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and now Mr. Williams. Rest in peace, Robin. The world has lost a genuine talent. :'(

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    1. I was not as affected by Whitney's death as Robin Williams and Michael Jackson simply because I expected something like that to happen to her at some point. She had been spiraling down for so long with the drug abuse that it really was no surprise to me that she overdosed. I was actually much more shocked with Heath Ledger and Phillip Seymour Hoffman's deaths. Not that I didn't love the Whitney Houston of old, before Bobby Brown and the introduction of all the drugs, I just wasn't surprised by it.

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