patch adams

4

“What’s wrong with death sir? What are we so mortally afraid of? Why can’t we treat death with a certain amount of humanity and dignity, and decency, and God forbid, maybe even humor.
Death is not the enemy gentlemen. If we’re going to fight a disease, let’s fight one of the most terrible diseases of all, indifference.”
                                          
Patch Adams (1998)

To Robin Williams:

I still remember the moment I read that you had passed with such clarity. I spent so much time checking hundreds of sources just to confirm that it was real and that you weren’t just another victim of a celebrity death hoax. When I realized that it was true, I cried. And then I cried some more. And then I cried myself to sleep. From the moment I knew what an actor was and that I could have a favorite one, you were it. RV was the first movie I owned that was actually mine, that I could keep in my room and people had to ask my permission to borrow it and watch it. Hook was one of my favorite movies ever growing up as a child, and Jumanji used to scare the hell out of me before I realized how cool it was. Now I watch it every time it’s on TV.

For the longest time, I wondered how someone so funny and so seemingly happy could really be in such a dark place, but over the past year, I have finally begun to understand it. We make people laugh because it is easier to save someone else than it is to save yourself. It wasn’t hard for you to get an audience laughing because you did an impression or made a joke and the crowd was on their feet, but that wouldn’t work with you, would it? You were just Robin Williams and that didn’t help you like it helped the world. And often, people see that mask you wear and assume it’s who you really are, and they don’t care to take the time to see that you might be hurting on the inside too. You want to scream out for help but feel the need to keep this happy image everyone knows of you. That’s not easy. John Green talks a lot about imagining people complexly and the dangers of assuming that “a person is more than a person” and I think you are a perfect example of the consequences the world faces when we fall into that. We imagined you as a comedic genius and forgot that you were just a person.

When I was little, I made two lists of famous people I wanted to meet- one list of all the living, and one list of the dead. You were high on the list, I remember that, and it broke me up to think that I would have to move your name to the other list and that I had missed any real chance of ever meeting you. You taught me so much about making people laugh and how you can always be crazy because what’s the fun in being sane? From you, I learned that there is joy in being funny without being mean.

I’m sorry that we weren’t enough to brighten your world and bring you out of your dark place, but I know that ultimately, you are happier now than you were here, and I think that’s all any of us want anyway. I’ve been collecting all of your DVD’s now, picking some up at $5 flea markets and ignoring my brother when he tells me I’ll have to buy some pretty shitty movies in order to complete my collection. No matter how shitty a movie of yours could be, I will smile because you will be in it.

Bangarang, Robin. You are loved. Present tense.

Remember laughing? Laughter enhances the blood flow to the body’s extremities and improves cardiovascular function. Laughter releases endorphin's and other natural mood elevating and pain-killing chemicals, improves the transfer of oxygen and nutrients to internal organs. Laughter boosts the immune system and helps the body fight off disease, cancer cells as well as viral, bacterial and other infections. Being happy is the best cure of all diseases!
—  Patch Adams