I don’t like to celebrate death days. Birthdays of the deceased are to be cheered as the day a particular soul we loved was given to us. But on this day last year, a person we admired did something some of us – especially in the comedy world – have contemplated. It’s a seed in the human mind – the idea of taking one’s own life – that has made Hamlet and Macbeth wonder aloud if this fucking life is worth living. “Life’s but a walking shadow…”
But the truth is – I’ve already written more on this post on Williams’ one year anniversary of shuffling off this mortal coil than I did on his birthday. The fact he took his own life made us face suicide directly and the pain that lurks beyond a person’s persona.
One year ago today, a man who was a dad and a famous comedian, took his own life. He made us laugh. He made us weep. Mr. Robin was the clown who danced on the edges of the world, lived in the side vision of many who thought he’d always be there…dancing…riffing…twinkling.
Williams’ death also makes me think of Bruce Bechdel, the father of Alison Bechdel, writer of the graphic novel “Fun Home” – now a remarkable musical on Broadway. One month from today, I will see it in person on Circle in the Square after a summer of listening to the score and immersing myself in the story of a cartoonist stuck in her craft, looking backwards to the relationship with her father and his death, likely by suicide, or “an accident waiting to happen”.
Although my father died of natural causes at 83, the musical will undoubtedly bring me to my knees. Fathers and daughters. Our stories are never told like this.
Also, one month from today is September 11th, and I don’ t have to tell you what that anniversary entails.
Here’s to the Bruces and the Robins of the world – dads who lived in very different worlds, yet suffered horrendous internal conflicts.
Fathers and goodbyes. To all the dads we’ve lost, rest in peace.