Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams and the loss of youth

As soon as I heard the awful news last night, I texted my cousin Alex, "Robin Williams. Fuck."
Almost immediately, I got the reply, "Noooooo!"
"Yep. Suicide"

We grew up with Robin Williams, guest appearances on Happy Days, Mork and Mindy, The Tonight Show, The World According to Garp, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poet's Society, Comic Relief. He was our funny man. Alex and I loved The World According to Garp. It's a damn fine movie. But now the funny guy of our childhood is gone. Taken by the awful disease of depression.

This morning, Bryan Ferry's version of Bob Dylan's Dream played on my iPod. As I listened to the lyrics and thought about Robin Williams, I thought about my friends.

While riding on a train goin’ west
I fell asleep for to take my rest
I dreamed a dream that made me sad
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had
With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon
Where we together weathered many a storm
Laughin’ and singin’ till the early hours of the morn 
By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung
Our words were told, our songs were sung
Where we longed for nothin’ and were quite satisfied
Talkin’ and a-jokin’ about the world outside 
With haunted hearts through the heat and cold
We never thought we could ever get old
We thought we could sit forever in fun
But our chances really was a million to one 
As easy it was to tell black from white
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right
And our choices were few and the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split 
How many a year has passed and gone
And many a gamble has been lost and won
And many a road taken by many a friend
And each one I’ve never seen again 
I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
That we could sit simply in that room again
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that
 As I thought about the words to that song and the friends I shared adolescence with, I thought about all those times we hung out together in the parking lot of a donut shop at 2 a.m. arguing about stars and whether time really existed. I suppose when you're a teenager, it's not so hard to think time doesn't exist. It seems like all you have is time, even though it's rushing past you so fast you don't even know it. And then your friends are mostly gone - off to college, off to start families, moving away to start their own lives. You walk into the room and hear that one of the constants in your youth has died and you realize that the time you have is precious. It hits you that the best thing that you can do with that little time you have is to cherish those around you, those childhood friends you share things with that you share with no others. Because some of them might well be gone too soon, too. One of mine already is.

If we could simply sit in that parking lot (room) again, we'd raise a toast to Robin Williams, and to each other. I'd gladly give ten thousand dollars at the drop of hat, if we could only do that.

Here's to us, Alex, Bud, Terri, Mel, Mickey Piggy, Ron, Mr. S., Larry, Jackie.

1 comment:

Jill Griffith said...

Beautiful... Thanks for sharing your thoughts my friend. You are a gentle soul...