I commented to a former co-worker that the news of Robin Williams death reminded me of another well-known persons death, namely that of Dr Hunter S. Thompson. In the case of Hunter Thompson, it was also a suicide, although from what I understand HST was in more physical than mental pain at the time he decided to end his life. It seems that we count on some folks to just be around us forever, and when they go, it's as if something was ripped away from our lives, as if by force. The reality though is that these folks were never "ours" to begin with, and their death is simply a reminder of that fact. In both cases though (Williams and Thompson), we are blessed to have bodies of work for us and for our children to enjoy in the ages to come.
While not a pleasant thought, it's also worth noting that as we grow older, we give some people the opportunity to have an even greater impact on our lives. For those blessed to have wonderfully supportive parents, I am sure that this point hits home even more so. I suspect it's the connection that matters. While certainly not the same as a parent-child connection, I connected with Hunter Thompson in high school; reading his work made me realize for the first time in my life that it was somehow okay to be a little on the odd side. Yes, I am odd, and that's okay. Anyway, I enjoyed much of what he wrote over the years, as it reinforced that special connection created years before. Similarly, I suspect that there are younger folks who may have connected with Robin Williams at first through his wonderful work on the Disney movie Aladdin. Me? I really loved Moscow on the Hudson, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam and a few other movies. I also loved listening to his stand-up routines. Connecting through laughter isn't something that should be taken lightly by the way, as I think laughter is this kind of lubrication for the soul...it simply makes you work better at whatever you are doing (now, in life, etc.). Losing that connection is tough, as I had to come to grips with knowing that I won't be able to read any new "Hey Rube!" columns and now I will not be listen to any new stand-up. As noted above though, both individuals left the world with bodies of work to enjoy.
Maybe one of the lessons from all of this is the acknowledgment that all of us have an obligation to create connections. Not to be ripped away at some point in the future to cause pain, but rather to somehow, in big ways or small, to make the lives of others better. If you are a parent you get to do that every day. If you are not, well, then you get to explore other avenues. Regardless, we all eventually exit this world, but we all don't make a positive difference in lives of others. The true "difference" though is that we can't control one, but we can control the other.