Robin Williams and My Heartbroken Childhood

robin_williamsI don’t usually care for movies or the lives of celebrities. Namedrop and there’s a very good chance that I’ll have no idea what you’re even talking about. When a popular celebrity dies, I feel empathetic but it doesn’t normally go past that. When the news of Robin Williams’ death reached me, however, I was devastated and speechless.

It’s weird feeling like this because I was a total stranger to him. And he was a stranger to me. What did I know about him outside of his movies and stand up? Honestly, not that much. Jumanji was a gigantic part of my childhood, though. It recalls memories of me going to my mema and grandpa’s house, hanging out and watching this movie obsessively. Every time I went there (which was pretty often), I watched Jumanji. I cherish these memories. They’re memories of my childhood, of when my grandparents were still alive, of when my innocence was preserved and my biggest challenges in life were trivial and childish. It brings back times that I can escape to when the present seems daunting or surreal.

There’s other movies that do this for me too of course. But as I grew up, I didn’t find myself impressed with the movies from other actors I idolized as a child like I did with Robin Williams. George of the Jungle will always hold a special place in my heart, but I don’t give a shit about what Brendan Fraser is doing with his professional career anymore. I liked Robin Williams because he was talented. In the course of an hour and a half, I could laugh and also tear up from his impressive acting. In fact, the last movie I saw in theaters before his death was Boulevard at the Tribeca Film Festival and I loved it. I rarely go to the movies and if I do, I usually don’t care much for what I’ve seen (obnoxious, huh?). And yes I had free tickets for the day, but I was only able to see one film and I was pumped that it was a Robin Williams movie.

Robin Williams was a symbol of happiness and silliness. He was the needed joke in a serious situation. There’s no question he was talented, but he was also a good person. He cared about people, he inspired people. There’s countless stories about how people feel like their lives were changed just through watching a Robin Williams movie or from having a chance interaction with him. Even in his death he’s inspiring people to open up the discussion about the severity of depression and suicide. It brings to light the fact that even though someone may seem well-adjusted and “okay” on the outside, there’s endless emotions and thoughts that a smiling face can easily hide. I think we were all pretty fooled in this instance.

I feel like I was robbed of a huge part of my childhood. Watching these movies makes me sad when I realize that there isn’t going to be more for me to greedily take in. He touched lives inside and outside of his movies. I value him for what he represents to me as a symbol of my past and the memories he helps conjure up, and I’m left feeling a little sadder knowing I won’t have the opportunity to rejoice over a new Robin Williams movie again.

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