Lots of folks have told their stories since we heard that Robin Williams died.
About Robin Williams, about suicide, about coping with sudden loss.
So here’s my thought: Find your connection to other people and don’t let it go.
When I was 14, I read The Bell Jar for the first time. I thought that Sylvia Plath had poured my emotional life out on the page and said everything I ever thought or felt. That included the stuff I was afraid to say or even acknowledge because it might be the final straw for me.
I reached a point in the novel where I couldn’t read further. I just couldn’t stop. I laughed, I cried, both at the same time. The book lay on my bed next to me. Caught in the image in my head, I curled into a fetal ball and my sobbing laughs shook my shoulders, then belly and eventually, all of me. In that moment, I discovered that no matter how alone I felt someone else got there first and maybe someone else would come after me.
Just like Sylvia Plath in the book, on another night I wandered around my home, robe sash dangling from my neck, tears dripping down my nose, looking for a beam or something strong enough to hold me up and make it stop. I tried and found it couldn’t hold a knot, tried and felt the knot slip right out of the polyester satin. The memory of despondent young woman with mascara running down her face, holding a torn belt loop and the end of a sash like a leash dangles in my head even today. I can’t remember if it’s in the book or just in my life. I just remember that both in life and as I read, I ended up sobbing that I wasn’t even competent enough to pull this off the right way.
That’s when I realized that Sylvia Plath had done this before me. I was doing it tonight. Someone would do this after me. Even if we never set on eyes on each other, we are not alone, we are a sisterhood of words, oral history, and we are there to be found if looked for beyond the pain. I keep that thought close when it feels very dark and alone.
We are not the first, nor the last, we’re a spot on a thread of time.