Six years ago, I wrote a blog post about “Why I’m Mourning Michael Jackson’s Death” in which I said this:
“I think we all get crazy in our obsession with the deaths of someone like Michael Jackson because he was there, singing in the background, when we experienced so many things we hold dear. The music is still there. The memories are still there. But if Michael Jackson can die, does that mean a part of us dies with him? I think that’s what we mourn.
Two years ago, I tweeted this about Whitney Houston:
When someone whose music has been part of your life’s soundtrack dies, it’s like a little part of you dies. RIP Whitney Houston
— Rex Hammock (@R) February 12, 2012
Last year, I wrote a blog post about Aaron Swartz in which I quoted Cory Doctorow’s lament that Aaron took his own life:
Quote from Cory Doctorow:
“Whatever problems Aaron was facing, they will go unsolved forever. If he was lonely, he will never again be embraced by his friends. If he was despairing of the fight, he will never again rally his comrades with brilliant strategies and leadership. If he was sorrowing, he will never again be lifted from it. Depression strikes so many of us. I’ve struggled with it, been so low I couldn’t see the sky, and found my way back again, though I never thought I would. Talking to people, doing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, seeking out a counsellor or a Samaritan — all of these have a chance of bringing you back from those depths. Where there’s life, there’s hope. Living people can change things, dead people cannot.”
Today, I find myself whipsawed between those reactions to the death of someone who was a comic genius and talented actor. As he’s just a few years older than me, I mourn his death personally as there were many parts of his life that touched me through his movies and performances. His humor was timeless, however, as they touched the lives of my children, as well. And they will touch the lives of generations of people to come.
In that way, Williams, like all great artists and creators, will live on. The creators have such immortality.
Yet this morning, I can’t help recalling what Cory wrote last year. Whatever problems Robin Williams faced will go unsolved forever.
His life inspired so many of us. Touched us. Moved us. Changed us.
I pray his death inspires those who may be facing the problems he faced, to seek the kind of help Cory suggests. To those, especially: Carpe Diem.