“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anybody else to feel like that.” ~ Robin Williams
The year is 1997.
It is the year the world is in uproar at the loss of its beloved Princess Diana, and Titanic is sweeping the theatres as Team Rose and Team Jack emerge almost instantaneously.
It is summertime and I am sitting in front of the huge console TV set, in my matching tank and skirt set—polka dots and pink in color, of course.
After playing with our family dog after a romp around outside, I focus on what is playing on the television just in time to see a tall, British-accented nanny peeing in a toilet. I am intrigued and watch this family classic to its completion, giggles and sadness abounding throughout.
We all know this movie as Mrs. Doubtfire just as well as we know the actor who plays her—the one and only Mr. Williams.
In just a few days, we will be celebrating yet another birthday without the familiar comedy of Robin Williams, and I can’t believe it has been six years since he took his own life. The king of comedy fell into such a deep depression; life no longer held a purpose for living.
A couple of years ago, I decided to read deeper into what made this actor tick and what eventually pushed him to the proverbial edge.
Below are five facts about this comedic genius that I never knew, and I bet you didn’t either:
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” ~ Robin Williams
1. Robin Williams was born into money and privilege. His father was an executive with the Ford Motor Company and his mother was a retired model and actress. This life of privilege equated to Williams spending much time home alone in his family’s mansion where he made up stories and characters to keep the loneliness from seeping in too far.
2. Williams had quite the drug and alcohol addiction. He first entered treatment for this in 2006 and again in 2014, a few months before his death.
3. Towards the end of his life, in the last year, Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. After his death and autopsy, it was found that he was misdiagnosed and actually had Lewy body dementia. What is the main risk involved with this disease? Thoughts and attempts of suicide.
4. Robin’s lifelong (and best) friend was Billy Crystal. They had dinner just a few weeks before Williams took his own life.
5. Williams was quite philanthropic and donated money and time to many charity organizations, including the charity foundation of his close friend, Christopher Reeve
“I try to make sense of things. Which is why, I guess, I believe in destiny. There must be a reason that I am as I am. There must be.” ~ Robin Williams
Buddhism teaches us that death is not an end, but a rebirth. In death we are reincarnated to our next life until we finally reach full enlightenment. We are taught as Buddhists that death is just another part of life and that we should embrace it; never fear it.
Robin Williams lived a life of comedic relief to help him cope with the demons he battled. My only hope is he is bathed in as much light and joy as he spread during his time here.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Williams, and thank you for your legacy.
“Tomorrow, I will continue to be. But you will have to be very attentive to see me. I will be a flower, or a leaf. I will be in these forms, and I will say hello to you. If you are attentive enough, you will recognize me, and you may greet me. I will be very happy.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh