Fear, Love, And Robin Williams

Robin Williams (Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
Robin Williams (Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

There’s one part about being in love that people currently there don’t really share. Admittedly, this seems practical. I imagine they want others to eventually be there too, so they volunteer personal examples of the want, weightlessness, and fulfillment associated with it to make others eager to join their club.

I’m currently experiencing this. And it is fucking great.

I’m also scared to death of losing her—to cancer, to car accidents, to E coli, to mutant land sharks—and I’m annoyed no one warned me that an increasingly irrational fear of an inevitable occurrence would come with this gotdamn fucking package.

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I wrote this last year as part of a series at the Good Men Project where a collection of writers each wrote 100 words about love.

These feelings have not dissipated. In fact, as my love for my now-wife has grown deeper, the fear of something happening to her has also grown. It's a depressingly symbiotic relationship. A growth spurt and a tumor.

My greatest fear — my only fear, perhaps — is becoming Sean Maguire, Robin Williams' character in Good Will Hunting.

It might seem odd that my mental manifestation of such prominent feeling is a fictional character. Admittedly, it strikes me as odd that Sean Maquire — and not my countless friends and family members who've lost people (including my dad, still grieving from the lost of my mom last year) — is who I first think of when thinking about someone coping with loss. But that character left such an indelible imprint on my conscious that it made a permanent residence there.

This is, of course, a testament to the movie, the writers, and the director. And Robin Williams, of course. He won an Oscar for that role, and I can't imagine any actor playing any character better than he played him.

He's dead now. But that character — and, by extension, him — will continue to occupy my mind. Whenever I think about that paralyzing and pervasive fear of losing the most important person in my life, that loop of him telling Will about love and loss will be there somewhere too.

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Which probably doesn't seem like much of a compliment, but it's the best one I can give.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

DISCUSSION

I always find it difficult to talk about depression because of the sheer amount of voices of people who have never had to deal with it always want the most space for their self-help bootstrap ideology. If it was as simple as a switch it would of been flipped already. Outside of that, as a black make who is already small and sensitive and who's father is the epitome of an alpha, one of the last things I'd care to talk about is any sort of mental frailty on my part. So it's generally something I keep away from people I'm close with along with the fact that I don't want to burden them with it.so there's a lot of guilt imposed self-isolation. I really feel for Robin Williams considering how so many people in my life did and have suffered from mental illnesses and those that took their life because of it.