What do you do when someone who's always made you laugh...makes you cry?
And if that happens, can that someone ever make you laugh again?
Well. Yes. But there's a trick to it. Allow me to digress for a moment.
One of my favorite fantasy films is "The Wizard of Oz".
Perhaps one of the reasons so many love this movie is the poignancy of Judy Garland. Poignant, not just because of the incredible authenticity and sincerity of her performance of the earnest and innocent Dorothy Gale, but because of the tragedies that haunted the actress later in her life.
It's hard to watch her buoyant, effervescent portrayal of a simple farm girl lost in a bright, radiant be-careful-what-you-wish-for dreamworld without thinking of her dark struggles beyond the other side of the rainbow. But let's take a page from Doctor Who and get a little "timey-wimey" here. You can't see the light at the end of a tunnel if you're focused on the darkness surrounding it. You can't live in the moment if you're focused on what happens next. You can't look at a clock and tell what time it is if you're focused on the second hand.
To enjoy a moment in time, you've gotta be there - even if you're experiencing it days and weeks and years and decades after it happened.
When I watch "The Wizard of Oz", I remember that in that particular moment in time, Judy Garland was 16 years old, and well, and happy, and outgoing, and affectionate, and cheery, and funny, and professional, and endearing. According to everyone who worked on the film with her, she was "a doll". Everyone from the director to the songwriters to her fellow actors to the Munchkins to even the dog - Terry - who played Toto - bonded with her (and that's pretty obvious when you watch the dog's reactions to her in the film). And that's what I think about when I watch that wonderful old movie - and in doing so, I enjoy it in a way I wouldn't otherwise. It's the way I think Judy would want to be remembered. And since she's entertained me so profoundly, I think I owe her that much.
We owe that to Robin Williams as well.
"Laugh, clown, laugh, but he's crying inside" is a cliche, but unfortunately, I'm here to tell you, it's often very true.
Nevertheless, let's remember Robin when he was doing was he was meant to do, when he was in his element, when he was entertaining us, when he was (I suspect), really truly happy. Remember those moments, and be IN those moments when you watch him onscreen. Performers like Robin are the point of light in that tunnel of darkness. That's how he'd want to be remembered. We owe him that much.
Let's remember the laughter.
Rest in peace, clown prince.