Sunday, August 17, 2014

Oh Captain, my Captain.

"Please, don't worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you're ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day.... make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular." 
-Jack (1996)

Its been almost a week since Robin Williams committed suicide, and I am still having a really hard time figuring out exactly how I feel. I know that I'm sad, but its more than that. Its not the normal "oh, what a heartbreaking loss of talent and life" that I feel when a celebrity dies. As silly as it sounds, I feel like I lost someone who was a true constant in my life; a crazy uncle that I would only see on holidays and other special occasions. When I heard the news it felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I spent my childhood watching his movies. Aladdin, Hook, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire, Ferngully....... Robin Williams was more than just an incredible actor and hilarious comedian, he was family.

My dad and I have always had a tricky relationship, but one thing that we have always had in common is our love of Robin Williams, especially the movie Hook. We used to watch it all the time, and my dad would always act out his favorite scene. Its the one where Peter is about to leave Neverland with his kids, but Hook calls him back. I can picture it perfectly, my dad would get so into it with his terrible Dustin Hoffman impression, face all scrunched up and his arm held out with his finger bent to look like a hook. "Peter. I swear to you wherever you go, wherever you are, I vow there will always be daggers buried in notes signed James Hook. They will be flung into doors of your children's children's children, do you hear me?"Then his face would completely change, and he would be Robin Williams. "What do you want, old man?" And then back to Hoffman. "Just you". 
This would happen every single time we watched the movie, and he'll still do it if anybody brings it up. Because of this and the movie Flubber (his character in that, the whacky professor who gets so involved in his work that he can forget the rest of his life, is 100% my father) Robin Williams and my dad are completely interchangeable in my mind.

As I got older, his characters changed with me. He made me cry in Jack, Death to Smoochy showed me that Robin Williams' humor could be dark; he was more than just the funny man from Mrs. Doubtfire. When I saw One Hour Photo I was completely blown away, because I never thought that I could be scared of Robin Williams. But it was Dead Poets Society that truly changed how I saw him. The first time I saw that movie, I was in fifth grade flying back from Switzerland with my dad. It really didn't have much of an impact on me then, but I do remember my dad saying that John Keating was the teacher he always tried to be. I watched it again when I was in high school, and I couldn't believe it. I still get chills when I think of his character. In college I watched What Dreams May Come and Good Will Hunting for the first time (yeah, I know) and it just confirmed what I had known for my entire life: the talent and absolute zest for life that Robin Williams had is something that can never be replaced. He was one of a kind.

To the man who gave my dad and I something to bond over and brought so much laughter and light to my life, I truly hope that you have found peace. You deserve it.