To Robin Williams, Forever My Captain

I know I’m not the only one suffering today. In fact, one of the few things alleviating my sadness is knowing that today, my grief is universal. Today the world lost a legend. And I can’t sleep thinking about a world without him.

It seems that there isn’t a single person who hasn’t been touched by Robin Williams’s life in some way. Whether it’s childhood memories of breaking into giggles watching Aladdin and Flubber, or knowing that no matter how bad your insomnia was, somewhere on some channel Mrs. Doubtfire was waiting to make you smile. Or maybe you were with him from the start and spent hours laughing with tears in your eyes at his alien antics on Mork and Mindy. Or perhaps it was his stand-up comedy and brilliantly wild improvisation that brought you joy or comfort or even inspiration to pursue your own dreams.

For me, Robin Williams was all that and more.

As someone who is trying to break into the film industry, I am always, without fail, asked the same two questions: what is your favorite movie and who is your favorite actor? And since I was thirteen years old, the answer has been the same: Dead Poets Society and Robin Williams.

It was rewatching this movie for the umpteenth time about two years ago that inspired me to begin writing again, and through that this blog was born. I even dedicated the tagline to my favorite line from the film, as a reminder of why I started and why it matters.

Yet even before that life-changing moment, before Mr. Keating ever entered my classroom, Robin Williams was everywhere for me. I still own Aladdin and Flubber on VHS. Whenever I see Mrs. Doubtfire or Jumanji playing on TV, I have to stop everything and at least watch a few minutes.

And then, one rainy summer, my parents came home as excited as I’ve ever seen them because they had found the entire collection of Mork and Mindy in DVD. My sister and I had no idea what they were talking about but as soon as they said Robin Williams, we curiously sat down on the couch with them to watch the first episode.

I kid you not, for three straight days, we did not move from that couch, watching episode after episode until we finished every season. The excited cries from my parents as they remembered their favorite episodes, the countless times we had to pause the show because we were laughing so hard none of us could see straight, and then the hours we spent afterwards looking up his stand-up on YouTube… It’s one of my favorite memories with my family.

And the list goes on and on. There isn’t a single work that doesn’t elicit a happy or powerful memory. Patch Adams. Good Will Hunting. Hook. The Birdcage. Good Morning Vietnam.

It seems absolutely unbelievable that someone who brought so much joy and always radiated a persona of beauty and love is gone. It’s terrible that someone whose light shone so bright could not find his own way out of the darkness.

I hope my hero finds peace. I hope his wish comes true, and he walks up to the gates of Heaven and God points him to his seat in the front of the concert of Mozart and Elvis. I hope he realizes his little spark of madness ignited a passion for film and words in me, and fueled the dreams of so many. I hope he knows that his life made others better, that his words and ideas changed my world and countless more.

Rest in peace, O Captain my Captain.

Nanu Nanu.

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