Robin Williams is dead. I am reading the headlines and watching the news blanket the Internet. But my mind is moving slowly, in disbelief, not computing this fact. How could he be dead?
I scroll through smiling photos of him as one by one my Facebook friends post their tributes, and I just can't believe he is gone. That face, the face of a thousand expressions. That voice, so cleverly altered in one parody after another with his trademark rapid-fire delivery. I remember his appearances on talk shows. Whether it was Johnny Carson or Letterman or Oprah, his staccato stream of consciousness left the hosts in the dust and the audience in paroxysms of laughter. Maybe they had planned on an interview, but he had his own agenda, and it was best to give him the spotlight and let him do what he did.
Because, damn, he was funny.
I feel shock, deep sadness, almost a personal sense of loss. Like he was more than a celebrity to me, someone closer. My friends are posting similar sentiments.
Why? Maybe it's because he was one of us - a baby boomer, one of my generation. Although many fans know him for his movies in the 80s and 90s, we knew him back in 1978 when he made his television debut as that loveable alien in Mork and Mindy. His "nanu nanu" quickly became part of pop culture, and he captured our hearts.
His talent was obvious. But Mork and Mindy was just the beginning of what would be a remarkable career.
From standup comedy to sitcoms to dramatic roles, he displayed the breadth of his talent time after time. He was simply amazingly good. Just read through the list of his movies - The World According to Garp; Moscow on the Hudson; Good Will Hunting; Good Morning, Vietnam; Hook; Mrs. Doubtfire -- classics, favorites that are timeless and can be enjoyed over and over again.
The accolades will come. Genius, one of a kind, maestro of comedy. Irreplaceable. All true.
The reports that this was a suicide make our grief even more pronounced, knowing the pain he suffered. Apparently, he had a lifelong battle with addiction and depression, and that's what got him in the end. How such a funny man could lose the will to live, to find nothing in life worth living for, is something that most of us can't understand. Not the love of his family and friends, or the adoration of his legions of fans, could compensate for the anguish he apparently struggled with. It just goes to show how insidious this disease is.
We don't know how and why he could no longer cope, why he sank into that maelstrom of despair. Was he getting help? Probably. But it wasn't enough to calm his demons.
On his Twitter page, one of his last tweets is wishing his 25 year-old daughter, Zelda, a happy birthday.
I remember when she was born. He talked about his little baby, Zelda, on one of the talk shows I watched, because I always tuned in when he made an appearance.
If only someone could have saved him.
Rest in peace, funny man. The world will not be the same without you.
Follow Helene Cohen Bludman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hbludman