My business is called Life As Fine Art. ...It seems appropriate to honor someone who portrayed a life as a fine art form as much as the great Robin Williams. And, notably the others you may have never even heard of...
It's a day later and, I found myself leaving the Starbucks this morning in slow motion. My household cherished him like a joyous icon; He has lived on my mantle for over 10 years, as seen in this picture of a NBC-TV news interview my husband Chris did with Robin in 2003. He is one of the only non-family members we were proud enough to put up on our pedestal.
I sipped my morning iced coffee, like I do every single day...but today I felt the sting of tears just at mere thoughts of a man I'd never met. I think it's because there is a little Robin Williams in all of us than we want to believe.
The pain was brought on as I began to think about another funny, kindhearted and adventurous guy... a family member, who also lived a brilliant life. Silently, and in desperation. We lost him 2 years ago to the same fate.
I emailed his sister to let her know I was thinking of him today. And her too.
My mind then wandered over to one of my oldest and closest friends, who also lost a relative around that same time to suicide.
I messaged my friend. And I was right...She was feeling the exact same way I was, at the exact same time.
And then it hit me... how enormous and ominously impossible it must have been for all of them...The perception that one is left without options. Here we stay behind, guilt ridden and confused for not recognizing their infinite depths. Not soon enough...or as it may be, not even at all. Simply just too late.
We both began to ponder the fact about WHY some of the funniest, most successful people and intelligent are prisoners to depression. It's a disease that is so common, so invisible... a silent killer, often wrapped in humor and a sense of adventure.
It's like a cancer, but it afflicts the soul.
That might sound like a good articulation of it, but there is a reason both of us could define it so easily... we'd both felt it too, in years past.
I used to be ashamed to admit this, it was both a burden and a horrific embarrassment that I carried for about a year or two. It was brought on by forces I really felt I had no control over. But the only way to gain control of it was to stop feeling ashamed about it. One of my doctors actually thanked me when I finally admitted the burden of what felt like a slow moving freight train. The doctor admitted also to have lived these feelings in the past.
And then, in my Facebook news feed, tweets, etc, suddenly seemed like a microcosm, and I could decipher who also has lived with this burden. They were exposed by their all too obvious empathy of the situation. Their articulation of it was just all too perfect. And, it was way more people than I thought... speaking a secret language and separation between those who knew how it feels, and those who did not.
Rather than focus on the means of how we lost a man who brought us so much joy, I like to think this tragedy opens a door to a dark room...
Just removing some of this shame depressed people bear lets some light into that dark room, and begins a first step to healing.
We all know the feeling, at some point or another, personally or by proxy.
It's a blind situation where many of the people you know, right in front of you, may be living with depression:
"In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes, claiming more than 38,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individuals ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status."
Get help. Or, look a little harder at someone you know. They might just be the one who is laughing just a little bit louder than everyone else.
My cousin Tara, in the wake of her brother's death has become a fundraiser for Out of the Darkness, a charity dedicated bringing awareness and suicide prevention. If you choose, please support her efforts and donate in the name of Timothy J. Larkin.
"...The funniest people I know seem to be the ones surrounded by darkness. And that’s probably why they’re the funniest. The deeper the pit, the more humor you need to dig yourself out of it.
Years ago, I was told that one of the most important attributes humans don’t have is the ability to see themselves the way others do. This is normally what I think of when people behave like an ass and don’t realize it, or think they’re smarter than they actually are. It’s rare that I think of it in the terms I have been after hearing about Robin."