Dear Robin Williams,
You and I never met, I never wrote you before. Perhaps I should have, but the idea of writing fan mail just didn’t occur to me. Or, more honestly, I was embarrassed by the idea. Fan letters are for teen girls, aren’t they?
I remember when I first saw you. I was a scared kid, in traction in the hospital. Five years old. I was lonely, and hurting and scared. A nurse suggested I watch Mork and Mindy. And I was hooked, as only a five-year old can be. Watching you, I laughed. I wasn’t as lonely.
And for the rest of my hospital stay, I knew I could watch you, and depend on you to be there.
I had a crush on you, of sorts. I wanted to be adopted by you and Mindy. My home life wasn’t so great, and the idea of being Mork’s kid was something I would day-dream about.
Hey, I never claimed to be normal, ok?
As I grew, so did your career. I memorized your Live At The Met. Friends and I quoted it back and forth. I watched almost every movie you’ve ever been in, the incredible, like Dead Poet’s Society, Awakenings, Fisher King, Patch Adams, to the far less incredible…Toys comes to mind. (Seriously Robin?! Toys?! What on Earth were you thinking?!) We even watched Death To Smoochy, repeatedly.
My children became Williams’ groupies. They could pick your voice out of Fern Gully, Aladdin, Happy Feet. In fact, we boycotted Aladdin 2, en masse, because you weren’t in it. I think we’re on our 3rd (or is it 4th?) copy of Mrs. Doubtfire. I delighted in their delight of you, that they could share in enjoying your talent, and looked forward to being able to introduce them to more as they grew.
You were a constant in my life. If I needed a good laugh, I could turn to one of your stand ups. A good cry? Any of your dramas would work. Even when you weren’t the ‘star’, you were.
I have to admit, the only movies I didn’t rewatch were the ones you played psychopaths in. You creeped me out too much. Which, granted, is a statement of your talent, but too much for me.
I admired your courage, in speaking openly and bluntly about your battles with addiction. I admit, I worried a bit about you, in the way someone so far removed from another, who only sees them on the screen, or in the press, can do…fleetingly, briefly, a prayer uttered here and there, but without any real clue as to the person behind the persona.
I’m just a fan, after all. While you’ve always been in my life through the roles you’ve played, I’ve never been in yours.
Today, my daughter told me of your death. I was stunned. “No way!” I yelled at her. “Quit jerking around!”
“Mom,” she said, “I’m really sorry. But it’s true.”
See, you’ve been a topic of conversation in our house more than once. When we talked about who we thought was talented in today’s media, you’ve been one of the first named. When we discussed how even those that have professional success, yet still battle demons come up, your name comes up. Diva knows how much I’ve enjoyed your career.
All this to say, I’m so far removed from who you are, only having your body of work, your interviews to pretend to know you by, and I regret that you’ll never have another film, give an interview, make me laugh, make me cry, in a new role.
And I’m nobody in your life, just another fan.
I cannot begin to imagine what your death means for those that actually knew you, loved you. Your wife, your children, your friends and loved ones.
You’ll be missed. My prayers, those of just a fan, go to all of your loved ones, who will be learning how to live without your presence.