This past week was spent in gorgeous accommodations courtesy of my wonderful mother and my younger sister wanting the entire family together. My mother rented a beach house with an additional apartment over the garage to hold all 10 of us, my older sister and her family, my younger sister and her daughter, Mom, Will and me.
This place had a pool, plus a gorgeous view of the beach where you could just walk down a few steps and you were in the ocean.
I have MANY tales to tell of the fun we had and how our first vacation since before my father died (so well over 4 years ago) was a great success.
The first dinner we were all together, my younger sister was teaching my niece about cleaning up after herself.
Will: Cleaning up after yourself and putting things away is an important skill to have.
Me, somewhat incredulously but mostly playing: How would you know?
Will: I see you picking up stuff and putting things away all the time.
I laugh, my older sister laughs harder and tells us we are hilarious. Will smiles proudly at his great wit.
Now this second part has little to do with vacation and more to do with the passing of Robin Williams. I have never been so sad and depressed over the passing of a celebrity. One of my friends from high school, Ryan Hilligoss, said on Facebook, “Tough times right now all over. I know he was an artist and never met him, but he felt like a friend of ours because we spent so much time with him since we were kids. He and his art are part of who we are as humans”
Just so, Ryan, just so.
I loved this perspective, because I was amazed at my level of grief. But I loved “Mork and Mindy’ when I was a very little kid. “Dead Poets Society” remains one of my favorite movies and one of the most moving movie of my teenage years. I grew up with Robin Williams, I have a Pandora station named “Robin Williams” so I can listen to his stand up when I need a laugh. “Good Will Hunting” was a brilliant movie mostly because of Robin Williams. He was funny, but he also had gravitas, he had an ability to move you – he made me laugh and he could make me cry. I had no words to express how much he meant to me or to my generation.
Ryan and many of my friends had words.
Will had words, too:
“He was one of those people who holds up a corner of the world, a person whose positive impact is so great that in some ways the stages of history can be measured by the presence of their life:
Before Robin Williams, During Robin Williams, and After Robin Williams.
“His existence changed the lives of everybody who was alive during his lifespan. Not necessarily in huge ways, but in some way or another. Either something he did, or something that somebody else did that they wouldn’t have done if he’d never existed, has touched virtually every person on the planet.
“I was only mildly surprised at the news that it was suicide. Holding up a corner of the world is a heavy burden, and this man propped us all up in varying degrees for decades.
“The world still turns, but the axis seems a bit off now.
“The world still isn’t flat, but it’s one hell of a lot flatter than it was.”
I cannot count the times I have turned to Will, in tears or in depression and said, “I don’t even know why I am upset.” He always has the words to define and describe why I am upset. Just like he did yesterday, as I grieved for a man I have never met but always considered to be a force of good in the world.
RIP, Robin Williams. You were loved and you will be missed.
One final section of words, courtesy of my older sister and Walt Whitman:
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red;
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.