A perspective on death
Okay, so Robin Williams died this week.
Yes, he took his life in a horrible way.
Yes, we’re all suffering the loss of a very funny man,
Yes, he gave so much of himself to the world,
And, yes, he lost so much of himself to the world.
But he wasn’t the only one who died this week.
Many people died.
People we were close with:
husbands, wives, children, brothers,
sisters, cousins. You know who they were.
People we weren’t close with:
innocent people caught up in other people’s wars,
all over the world, people gave up
their lives, and didn’t want to give them up.
These are the ones we weren’t close with,
and we don’t know who they were,
all over the world.
Girls were abducted.
Girls killed because they were girls,
Girls killed because they wanted to learn something,
Little boys who were imploded by big boys’ bombs.
Big boys who killed for religious reasons.
Big boys who were killed for religious reasons.
Big boys who thought they should be men.
Boys who believed that that was what men do.
Men, and women, died without reason.
Men, and women, died without the benefit of religion.
Men, and women, died maybe wishing that they had had
the benefit of something.
All over the world.
All of them died.
Why did Robin have to die?
Lauren Bacall died. But she was old.
Michael Brown died. He was killed. Young.
Unarmed, unprepared, not ready.
I knew several people
who died this week:
Unarmed, unprepared, not ready.
A colleague of mine, Alex, the same age as me,
who I’ve known for 30 years,
I’m sure he wasn’t ready.
My wife’s cousin, Terri, the same age as me,
who I’ve known for 30 years,
Committed suicide, like Robin, so she must have been ready.
But I don’t think she really was.
I think she would’ve preferred to live if she knew how.
But she didn’t.
She didn’t know how.
She lived on the streets.
With alcohol and drugs.
She lived with ghosts, who
told her she was no good,
told her that there was something that would make her feel better.
Ghosts that whispered, I can take you away from all this,
Ghosts that whispered, you don’t belong here,
Ghosts that promised to make the pain go away, until
this week, when she said for herself:
No, I will make the pain go away.
She took her life – back, by ending it
Alex and Terri went away.
Robin went away.
Innocent people went away.
Old people went away.
People we knew went away.
People we didn’t know went away.
to go away.
Just go away.
you know Randy, and you have so beautifully said – that our time here is very short, and our opportunity to do good, be kind and love is so short.
It is very short, and the aim is to love and create. Yes. You are so right, Bill.
It was a sad day when someone who (appears) to have it all can not cope with life and chooses to leave this world. But it is an even sadder day that people who didn’t even know him mourns his loss as if he were their best friend, father, brother, or partner and ignores all of the other people who have passed for a myriad of reasons like you said. Or the suffering of those in your own city who are living on the streets….mourn them, help them, feel sad for them. After all no one has ever said “I think I will be homeless today and do drugs and/or alcohol and let down all those around me who love me.” or “Hey…let’s get high so I can get hooked on this stuff and steal from my own family to feed my habit and die in the street with no name!” Said no one EVER!
I loved your post. It spoke volumes…I hope someone listened and heard your words. 🙂
Dear Courtney (if I may call you by your first name),
Thank you so much. You’ve expressed the feelings as well, if not better, in your prose as my poem. Thank you.
No high school yearbook picture has next to it “looking to grow up to die as drug addict, or, plans on being someone’s sister dying of leukemia.”
The bell tolls… constantly, and incessantly.
We go on…
until we don’t.
Thank you, Randy
You absolutely can call me by my first name 🙂
And you are most welcome. Yes…we go on until we don’t. I am still stunned by the way people react when a celebrity passes away from drugs or suicide or idiocy (as in the case with Paul Walker) such a senseless death. I just feel there are so many more things people should be upset about that they aren’t…..priorities are a little effed up, you know? 😦
Yes, there are many more important things. Like addressing poverty, income inequality, illnesses, energy, the environment, jobs, education, and aging,
But there are my last words (not literally – ha) on celebrity death matches (literally – ha)
In Robin’s case. as in so many cases, what matters for me is the tragic loss of a creative, brilliant, mind/soul/person who gave so much of himself, not just through comedy, but through social causes.
Yes, he was a celebrity, but we look up to and enjoy our entertainers even though we don’t know them personally. We feel a kinship with them.
And they have presented themselves to us in order to entertain and/or influence us – and we have agreed to let them do so.
We have invited them into our lives.
It hurts us when they die even under normal circumstances, but when they do themselves in, as sometimes our own loved ones do, they cheat us out of that relationship.
It may be someone’s right to kill themselves, but It seems so unnecessary, so wasted, whether celebrity or not.
We are cheated when they do that.
I believe that people have responsibility to their constituents, fans, loved ones to go on living. I understand that they are blinded to this because of the pain that they are experiencing, their extreme suffering, and that all they can only think is: I want out of that pain. I can’t go on like this anymore.
It is too bad, that today, with all the meds and support that is available, to lose anyone to this.
Yes, there may be a lot more to Robin’s story, but I am angry with him.
The same way I am angry and cheated by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who I feel was one of the most brilliant actors of our time – and the buddingly brilliant Heath Ledger.
And my wife’s cousin Terri.
And all the others i have known…
And now on to solving the world’s foremost and pressing problems (like what’s for dinner?)
I agree 100%… I absolutely loved Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I had said many, many times before we lost him that he was one of the most brilliant in Hollywood currently. I loved his ability to make himself into whatever role he was playing. Heath Ledger was another tragedy but the one who truly broke my heart was Whitney Houston. I did indeed shed a tear at the untimely, tragic way the world lost such a beautiful person.
My thoughts were about the people who get so upset about celebrities or influential people who pass too young but then ignore those right in their own back yard that are hurting. Fortunately there are many more resources available than before for depression and drug abuse but it still holds such a stigma and human nature dictates we not look “weak” to those around us. I can imagine the pain and feeling of despair so strong you feel taking your life is the only answer to making it stop. I have been there. But I was blessed enough to have family who didn’t allow that to happen and saw the signs.
My best friend lost both her mother and ex husband who was the father of her children this summer a month apart. Even though they were no longer married, they remained friends and she took sole care of him the last few months on this earth. I see and feel her pain and I feel helpless….. but she knows I’m here no matter what! I hope that is enough….
As for dinner…we had tacos! 🙂
thanks for the enlightened discussion. i enjoyed it.
Hope you had a nice dinner…. 😉 Randy
I look forward to hearing more from you.
You will! Me too.. Thanks Randy…. 😉