Of all the celebrity deaths I’ve lived through over the years, Robin Williams‘ hit home the hardest.
Robin Williams was like a famous Dad for 90’s kids, as his appearances in films such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, Jack, Jumanji, Patch Adams and more were as paternal as any performances of the decade. Simply put, Williams was a second, more famous father to tons of millennials.
And even though Williams has been gone for over three years now, stories of his innate humanity and kindness continue to pour out, the latest of which comes from lawyer and writer Kate Osher, who was once consoled by Williams following the suicide death of her husband.
After struggling to get her husband’s ashes past TSA, Osher broke down to tears at the terminal bar. In tears until Williams showed up, that is.
via The Mighty:
After my first husband Greg died by suicide, I went on a travel quest of sorts, scattering his ashes where he requested and trying to piece my life and my soul back together as best I could. I spent quite a bit of time flying between Los Angeles (LAX) and Oakland, as I was living in West Hollywood but contemplating a move to San Francisco or Marin and visiting my best friend monthly at a minimum. Post 9/11 it wasn’t always easy to get a Tupperware of your late husband’s ashes through TSA security, and at LAX one afternoon I found myself on the receiving end of an agent with a power trip like no other. After several threats telling me I was going to have to toss the ashes and me going ballistic and falling into hysterics and finally having a real cop come in and look at the death certificate I always carried with me, I made it to the airport bar still crying and clutching my little container. I sat in a corner table facing the wall so no one could see how hysterical I was, with my whiskey on the rocks providing support, and I felt a hand on my shoulder. A soft voice stated, “Miss, I just want to be sure you are OK. I see you are traveling alone, and I saw what happened, and I just really want to be sure you are OK.” Through my tears I could place the voice but couldn’t actually believe Robin Williams was just casually strolling through LAX and would actually take the time to stop to see if I was OK.
I was still crying that ugly cry where you are trying to catch your breath, and I gave him the Cliff Notes version of circumstances. His eyes got a little glossy. His voice got softer. And he said to me, “Addiction is a real bitch. Mental illness and depression are the mother of all bitches. I am so sorry for all the pain your husband was in. I’m so sorry for the pain you are in now. But it sounds like you have family and friends and love. And that tips the scale a bit, right?” And he walked me to the gate, as we were on the same commercial flight.
He was a gentle soul. He made us laugh, and he made us cry. He made us feel with his craft. He was honest about his demons. He was open about his mistakes and his faults. He was obviously in pain.
Mental illness and severe depression are the mother of all bitches. Damn straight.
He was always there for our veterans, always there for our service men, children in hospitals, his own friends and family in need, and even a hysterical stranger in the airport. And what I haven’t yet shared was that during our walk to the gate he got me laughing. Impersonating people we passed by. Making fun of the TSA agents, especially the one who gave me such a hard time. In a playful way though. Not insulting (even though the guy totally deserved to be insulted). He told me I had a wonderful laugh. A beautiful smile. And when we parted ways, he hugged me. With his famously hairy arms, he gave me a huge, warm, bear hug, and it sustained me. It was a moment I think about all the time. That moment saved me. And sustained me. He sustained me during one of the most difficult moments of my life.
That’s who Robin Williams was: the watchful protector of those who struggled with the same demons as he did. Williams knew that even if he wasn’t able to save himself, he’d be able to save others. And save others he did.
You can read the full story over on The Mighty. Trust me when I tell you, it’s worth it.