My friend Kate shared this story of her encounter with Robin Williams during a particularly difficult time in her life. :
“I am sitting with my kids who are in a wagon singing So Long, Farewell and pretending they are sailing to Ireland to pick up trash on their next expedition. And a text from a dear friend just came in. And then another and then a news alert. And before the sideline commentary starts about this being just another spoiled Hollywood star with a list of addictions who couldn’t get his shit together, let me share a little story I haven’t told anyone. Not my best friend, not my parents, not anyone. Because it is too precious to me. But now is the time. And now is the place.
After Greg died I went on a travel quest of sorts, scattering his ashes where he requested and trying to piece my life and my soul back together as best I could. I spent quite a bit of time flying between LAX and Oakland, as I was living in West Hollywood but contemplating a move to San Francisco or Marin and visiting my best friend monthly at a minimum. Post 9/11 it wasn’t always easy to get a Tupperware of your late husband’s ashes through TSA security and at LAX one afternoon I found myself on the receiving end of an agent with a power trip like no other. After several threats of telling me I was going to have to toss the ashes, and me going ballistic and falling into hysterics and finally having a real cop come in and look at the death certificate I always carried with me, I made it to the bar still crying and clutching my little container. I sat in a corner table facing the wall with my whiskey on the rocks, and I felt a hand on my shoulder. And a soft voice asked “miss, I just want to be sure you are ok. I see you are traveling alone, and I saw what happened, and I just really want to be sure you are ok.” And through my tears I could place the voice but couldn’t actually believe that Robin Williams was just casually strolling through LAX and would actually take the time to stop to see if I was ok.
I was still crying that ugly cry where you are trying to catch your breath, and I gave him the Cliff Notes version of circumstances. And his eyes got a little glossy. And his voice got soft. And he said to me “Addiction is a real bitch. Mental illness and depression are the mother of all bitches. I am so sorry for all the pain your husband was in. I’m so sorry for the pain you are in now. But it sounds like you have family and friends and love. And that tips the scale a bit, right?” And he walked me to the gate as we were on the same commercial flight.
He was a gentle soul. He made us laugh and he made us cry. He made us feel with his craft. He was honest about his demons. He was open about his mistakes and his faults. He was obviously in pain.
Mental illness and severe depression are the mother of all bitches. Damn straight.
Rest in peace, Mr Williams. May you find the peace that alluded you here and may you keep the angels laughing.
Thanks for being there that day for me. You were the angel I needed. And I know you spoke from experience and I appreciated that.”