Robin Williams was my friend.
No, I never met him in person, never shared a selfie, a drink or a conversation with him…albeit a one-sided friendship… but I did grow up with him.
So forgive my familiarity by referring to him by his first name– I mean no disrespect. I just think he would have liked that.
I’ve never been a big fan-type or trend follower. Somehow though, as a teen growing up in Central Florida, I owned and probably, too frequently, wore a Mork Nanu Nanu t-shirt and held up my pants with button-clad, rainbow suspenders.
I never missed an episode of Mork and Mindy and seldom missed a chance to see or hear one of Robin’s stand up routines– no matter how many times I’d seen it before. I was completely mesmerized by his energy and creativity.
Robin came into my life at a time when I needed to know it was okay to express my imagination; to be a little bit crazy and weird– to be myself.
When I first heard the news of his passing, the first images in my head weren’t of specific roles or characters he’d played– it was his eyes.
The saying, the eyes are the window to soul, was never more aptly demonstrated than it was with Robin. His eyes always told the whole story.
When I see his eyes, I see a gentle genius of a man whose heart was bigger than the combined brilliance of all the roles he’s played, rolled into one.
I remember seeing Hook for the first time. Reluctantly at first, I was quickly drawn in and lost in the fantasy, caught up in the magic and incredibly moved and invigorated by Robin’s spirit.
That’s just who Robin was. He wasn’t just a friend to some, he was (and is) a friend to us all. Whether you prefer to remember him as Mork or John Keating, Armand or Mrs. Doubtfire– or simple as Robin McLaurin Williams, the man… His spirit lives on.
When Robin made The Birdcage in 1996, it was still considered a career-risk for an actor to take on a gay role. Playing a gay man in a loving relationship, made him more than my friend– it made him my hero. He took on the role fearlessly and passionately– the way he lived his life.
This is how I will always remember him.