In Search of Peace

Ok, where to start dear blog.  How much of myself do I want to give away this week?  Well, at the top of my emotional roller coaster ride is the deep sadness I still feel after hearing about the passing of our dear Mr. Williams.  I have not been this overwhelmed by the passing of a celebrity since Bobby was killed in Dallas.  Yes, that was some time ago and if that seems funny well it wasn’t.   I was very young at the time and the show might have been a wee bit too old for me.  But the grown ups in my life did not realize this at the time.  Bobby Ewing was my first crush ladies and gentlemen and every Friday night when I went to bed I dreamt of him very truly, madly and deeply.  Desire was one of the first human emotions that I remember feeling.  Freud could have fun with that statement but I did want Bobby Ewing to pick me up and put me on a white horse.  That was as far as my brain could imagine at the time.  In any case, when his character was killed off I cried for hours on top of hours.  My imaginary boyfriend was dead and I mourned for the first time as a child.

Fast forward 30 years later and I read, courtesy of Twitter, that Robin Williams look his own life.  I cried and tried to stop myself from feeling the loss that was so profoundly felt by many.  I then stopped myself from reading too much on social media, I knew it would overwhelm me and thought it better to ignore it if I could.  I did not feel capable of feeling grief in that moment.  But I did think about his spirit and wondered where it might rest itself.  What a tragic way to leave this earth, he deserved better.

Depression robbed him of a more honorable good-bye.   No one should have to take their own life but sadly sometimes people believe it is their only way out.  I don’t condone it but I understand how a person can get to that point.   I do not even want to put myself in the frame of mind  Mr. Williams and will not assume I know anything about his life other than he sure could make me laugh.  Obvious to everyone because he did the same for millions.  Imagine that for a moment if you will.  Being able to make so many people happy just by being yourself; a connoisseur of laughter and imagination.  I love that man and damn I wish I had a Robin Williams story tucked away in my back pocket.  The closest I ever got to him in my Toronto days was when my friend Renée worked on one of his films.  I got to hold a picture that she snapped of him while on set.  That’s as cool as it gets folks.

But if I did have a Robin Williams story to tell it would go something like this.

It was late fall when Mr. Williams came to town to work on “Death of Smootchy.”  I was in the middle of rehearsing a play I was performing in called Jacob`s Wake at the Village Playhouse.  During my downtime I liked to quietly run my lines at the most charming of book stores in Toronto’s west end.  It was at one time an old movie theatre and I loved how they left in some of the old theatre seats for its patrons.  I could easily find a secluded spot to read my script.   I loved the classic look of the red velvet bucket chairs that were scattered throughout the store.  However, sitting in them wasn’t as comfortable as I would have liked them to be.  I often got stuck trying to get out of them if I tried to do so in a hurry.  Case in point the day when I saw Robin Williams came into the store.  I heard he had been in town as a good friend of mine was doing camera work on a film he was staring in.  I thought about the many ways I could run into him while he was in the same place as me.   But those fantasies often involved him wrapping me in his arms and asking where I had been all his life.  A little far-fetched I now. But finally, here was my chance.  He was walking towards my corner of the shop and as he got closer I tried to jump up and look cool.  In my haste I somehow managed to fall further back into the abyss of my chair and I was stuck.

“Call 911, call 911 we have an actress stuck in a chair, actress stuck in a chair over here people.”

For some reason I was imagining Robin shouting this all over the book store, I was mortified in my own head.  Instead, I felt a hairy hand pull me out from the life sucking contraption.

“Oh my,” was all I could get out.

“My dear you need to be more careful of who you let hold that lovely tush,” he said in a very flamboyant voice.

“Robin, thank you.”

“Oh please, call me Mr. Williams,” he chuckled and with a sly grin he took my hand once more and kissed it.

I blushed, “Why, Mr. Williams I do declare,” I said doing my best Blanche Devereaux impression, I was a big Golden Girls fan.

He recognized my play and without blinking he said,”Why, Scarlett I just couldn’t take you away from Rhett, you have broken my heart.  I must go now before anyone else gets hurt.”

And off he went walking like a bowlegged cowboy after winning a duel.  He kept up his silly walk until he was outside the store and was gone from my life forever.

I wish that were a true story.  Imaging it somehow gives me comfort in a strange sort of way.  I imagine it so that I do not have to remember the way that he was taken from all of us.   The person that took Robin Williams life was not the man that we grew to love.  I hope the world can remember that most of all.


R.H. Downs


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