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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



For any of us of a certain age there came a moment in our history where we grew from bobby sox and the local diner to a quiet little house in Colorado and an alien named Mork. Mork was a crazy weird guy who was known for his child-like antics and a penchant for dance and screaming at the drop of a hat. At the end of every episode Mork would check in with the “mother ship” and discuss what he learned about humans and how they reacted with each other.

As we grew older we laughed as Mrs. Doubtfire caught her much enhanced figure on the hot stove and pranced around with her chest a burning inferno of laughter. There was Patch Adams, the doctor who believed that everyone deserved medical care and that laughter could cure more than medications, all long before Obamacare was a thought. Then it happened one hot July day as I was prepared to go off to college and we were introduced to a professor who reminded us that learning wasn’t just about memorizing words on paper and taught us all the Walt Whitman poem “Captain, Oh Captain.” There was more laughter to be had as the years went on, from the sound studio in Vietnam to soaring heights in Peter Pan to bringing Teddy Roosevelt to life in Night in the Museum, each of these characters from Mork on came to life because of Robin Williams.

It is no secret that I don’t tend to refer to many celebrities as hero’s but Robin was different. He was a funny guy, he was a little crazy and he made me laugh until my sides hurt. There was something about his comedy that drew you in and made you laugh. It wasn’t always without profanity, but it never seemed to be overly blue. It was something that made sense to you and much like the Iowa weather if you waited a few seconds, his topic would change and you would find something that spoke to you.

The news of his death by suicide early last week rocked not only the entertainment industry but those of us who grew up with him and found laughter around every corner. More importantly it started a discussion about depression, something which I have struggled with myself for nearly thirty years. It was said many times that the funniest people around us, seem to have the darkest places deep within themselves and it is only through laughter that they can keep their head above water. We struggled to make sense of Robin’s choice to take his own life and yet hoped that people would finally reach out and get the help that is out there for anyone who is suffering. Through his death he was applauded by those who have for years staffed crisis hotlines because it seemed to reach people and the number of people actively seeking help increased.

Had the story ended there, he would have ended up with an asterisk by his name along with Belushi, Candy, and Farley: amazing comics who all suffered with forms of depression and whose laughter was silenced way too soon. But it wasn’t to be and as we all calmed down a bit and dried our eyes, it was reported that Williams was starting to show signs of the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Now anyone who has ever seen his stand up may ask how anyone would know, but with this new information, unfortunately many won’t look at Williams’ suicide as a tragic ending to a beautiful life, but rather a chicken (sic) way out of a horrible disease. The coward’s way out and one that defines that asterisk behind his name.

Regardless of how this all pays out, Williams should be thought of as a comedic genius who is without rival and the tragic loss of his life touched many people around the world. I hope that it will always be remembered as tragic and as a reminder to those who suffer that there is help out there for them, all one needs to do is ask for it. For as hard as life can be to live sometimes, the world is a much better place with you and me in it.

See you next week. Remember, we’re all in this together.