It's been a few days since I heard the news of Robin Williams' death, and though that scarcely seems like enough time to wrap my head around referring to his life in the past tense, the entire world seems to have weighed in, whether using his end as a cautionary tale or in some way paying tribute to the man and his work.
Doctors and assorted other "experts" have tried to explain, to make sense of the unthinkable, while others have judged and condemned the act of suicide as one of selfishness.
Me, I feel raw, shaken, more fragile, and keenly aware that the world is a sadder place without his big, beautiful spirit.
To most, Robin Williams' suicide was a shock of epic proportion. I do not know why it wasn't that way for me. Instead, I felt an overwhelming sense of "Ah yes, Robin, I understand, though I wish it weren't so."
It would never have been a good time for him to go, even if he had lived to be a hundred and died of natural causes. Such was the enormity of his gift...and such was the hunger we possessed for what he had to offer.
That he left us a body of work that captured and encapsulated his greatness, is a present we should be grateful for. That he left before giving us more of it, says more about our own selfishness than his, really.
I know I go against the grain on this, but I believe he did what he came here to do, even in his passing, if by it we grow kinder toward one another and more compassionate and aware that every single one of us carries around a silent pain that the world likely knows nothing about.
People are astonished that success, fame, wealth, and accolades could not somehow temper the effects of an illness that existed before, during, and after the attainment of those things -- as if any of that is really what makes even the healthiest among us happy. It doesn't.
The truth is we all want to be known, heard, understood and loved in spite of and because of who we are. But none of that can truly exist without us first giving the gift of that knowing, hearing, understanding and loving to ourselves. You can't be at war with yourself and at peace with the world around you.
So I think Robin Williams' final offering to us is who we become now that we know the magnitude of human suffering that exists among us. Can we be kinder? Can we judge less and love more? Can we be with each other, even when it's uncomfortable, even when we don't know what to say, even when it's inconvenient? Will we take the time out of our busyness to realize time is so very fleeting? Will we do what we need to in order to be happy in our lives, knowing that we are not guaranteed even one more day?
Gandhi's quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world" has always been one of my favorites. However, tonight, I feel like the point is really to be the love we wish to see in the world.
It is always the right time to be kind. It is never too soon to care. And laughter is a holy present, given freely to us to sweeten the journey that we're on while we're on it.
It is my prayer that the peace and relief he sought has found Robin Williams now, and that he can feel the love and appreciation that permeates those of us on both sides of the veil separating this world from the next.