I fondly recall rolling up a bath towel to muffle the sound and glow of the TV when I would stay up late to sneakily watch Mork & Mindy reruns. Not to mention the hours of gut-busting laughter I shared with my sisters as we seemed to watch Mrs. Doubtfire and Patch Adams over and over and over until not even the best VCR auto-tracking could save the picture. I remember experiencing how the story of an outcast who was drawn to a mystical board game could transport us all into another world, another realm of imagination we’d never yet explored, until Jumanji suffered the same abusive destiny as the previously well-loved titles.
But What Dreams May Come manifested something deeper. It showed me that there was a thing in this world called storytelling and that it had the potential to be done so very well and beyond reasonable comprehension. That versatility of talent and expression of emotion are things made of magic that are ingrained in our beings or happen to exist only in fairytales. The story itself taught me of morbidity and destiny and of the poetry of life and woes of suicide.
To be more specific, it was the first I learned of the concept of suicide having a name.
Even then, in such a place of youth, I’d had the isolating misfortune of mental and emotional torment. Thoughts of hurting myself to the point that I would simply cease to be.
But I never did.
Mostly because I was confused by the feelings. I had found such joy in so many things. One of those things being the ability I had to make the people around me laugh to the point of joyous tears. The other being a support system around me that wanted nothing more than to love me and be certain I’d never become the victim to my own mind.
I’ve struggled for years with crippling depression, even being hospitalized a few years after ignoring PPD after the birth of my child, but know that I am not as alone as the illness can sometimes yell incessantly at me that I am. And there is one thing I’ve seen in the past few days that has jutted further and prodded harder at my heart than anything else. It was penned by Cracked and read, “Nobody’s asking you to hold an intervention for your friend who’s always clowning around. Just be there when they need you, and keep being there even when they stop being funny.”
But what captivated me most about this film in particular was the range of craft by Robin Williams. How exceptionally he played the role of a father & husband who loved more deeply than his devotion could allow, and how he applied that love to prove that the odds were worth defying.
And it pains me to even mention that what has triggered the memory of why I was so magnetized to this movie at such a young age with what contextually may seem like no relevant connection between the individual events within the story and a twelve-year-old girl who had experienced no loss or significant tragedy, is the abrupt loss of Robin Williams earlier this week to an apparent suicide.
But the trigger is relevant because when we hear news of such things, the sometimes silent torment of our minds is awakened and reminded of why we are suffering and to be mindful of our pain.
“You’re losing your fear. Fear? That you disappeared. You didn’t. You only died.”