Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dear Zelda

Dear Zelda, I feel a bit foolish writing to someone whom I’ve never met, nor never will meet. More importantly, I feel foolish for writing a letter about an experience I haven’t encountered personally nor could even imagine. All I know is that I love my father.

 Even as I write the sentence, I feel my breaths grow deep and deliberate. I cannot construct, yet have often wondered, what my life would be like at the moment of losing someone so deeply influential to me Your father was an incredible man. A thousand people could say so and still be insufficient to describe how much.

 He embodied the child in all of us, and as we watched him, and grew close to him on the screen, we little understood the cost it exacted upon him. Forgive us. We loved him like a father, or perhaps a crazy uncle. He was the sad clown of an American dream; the person who could stare our deepest fears dead in the eye and laugh. He spent his life in front of all of us; acknowledging doubt, war, sickness, weakness, loss; the greatest fears and voids that live within the American psyche. But we also turned to him for insight; for reflection; for a smile. We stood on the cliff with him and asked what this great journey had in store for us; why it was worth the cost.

I will long marvel on the way in which celebrities seem to impact our everyday lives. I will stand amazed at how they exist as people we have never met, yet as those we feel deeply we know and love. And judge. People who are struck with troubles that lay outside our own sphere. But I think we will be hard-pressed to insist that a man like Robin exists outside our own experience. That we can somehow separate his pain from our pain, even as we embrace his joy as our joy. 

As I said before, I feel silly trying to declare something about your situation, but I will declare this; Robin Williams was the voice of a people fearful of acknowledging their own doubts. He was the voice of hope in a generation that lived in a shadow of uncertainty. Whatever messages you may receive from the embittered and poisoned people of this world, let me say that your father empowered the waning hearts of an entire world of cynics. We watched him in hospitals and tree trunks, in oil lamps and psych offices, in dreams, in classrooms, and in livingrooms, proudly declaring to the world that life was worth laughing about. Whatever his troubles, whatever his fears, he was a person to whom love meant something greater than I can describe. 

Once again, please forgive me for my presumptions upon him. My thoughts are with you and your loved ones at the epicenter of this great loss, and please know that I and many others are there for you in what little capacity we may have.