Like most news we hear these days, I found out about it on Facebook. Comedian-Actor Robin William dead. And no doubt, like all of you over the past few days, I’ve read countless posts about him; his work, his life, his highs and his lows. I’ve read articles about suicide and depression. I’ve read words filled with compassion and others filled with malice, and I’ve taken them all in. It seems like everyone is posting something about the man or the darkness that consumed him. I certainly do not have any revelation on depression or the treatment thereof, but the thoughts have consumed my mind like moths to a flame; each one bringing a new point to ponder.
And I have pondered all of them.
I have thought about the man who truly brought light into darkness. He visited the children’s hospital where I work on several occasions and gave of his time as a spokesman for them in the Thanks and Giving Campaign each fall. His gift of laughter was shared with those children battling a cancer that was oftentimes larger than they could overcome. He was a ray of light to them, yet darkness consumed him.
An afternoon thunderstorm rolled over the North Carolina hills near our home this afternoon. The thunder roared through the skies like trumpets making way for the dark clouds that seemed to shove the light from the sky. It covered everything in its path with a shroud as the rain began to pour harder and harder.
With the rain still falling, although not pouring, the light returned. The sunshine broke through the rain clouds and the sky was bright with falling rain. A complete rainbow stretched out to the east in the midst of the clouds that seemed so melancholy, bringing squeals of happiness from my kids when they saw it. The sunshine made the falling drops look like crystals in the air and diamonds on the trees.
My heart has literally hurt as I’ve thought many thoughts about the darkness that took shape in Robin Williams’ life. It is devastating to think that someone who brought the gift of laughter to everyone he saw could be so overtaken by sorrow. I’m certainly not a psychologist or psychiatrist. I don’t work at a rehab facility or work in any type of therapy, but I’ve seen depression first hand in someone I love. I’ve seen mental illness and alcoholism take hold of someone and tear their life apart. I’ve been to the point where all I was able to do in the situation was to say, “I love you.”
“God loves you.”
I’m not naive enough to think that Robin William never heard words of happiness or joy from those around him. I’m quite certain they encouraged him and tried to uplift him, and yet he did not overcome his war with darkness. But the light I take from this dark event is this; I am called to be the light to this world… to this dark world filled with things like depression and suicide. I am called to be the rainbow giving hope. I am called to be the light shining even in the rain. No, I certainly won’t win every war, but I must fight every battle.
The quote has been shared several times over the past few days, “Be Kind for Everyone You Meet is Fighting Their Own Battle.”
There is darkness all around us. People filled with worry and consumed with fear. My smile to a stranger or kind word to a friend won’t save the world… but it might just be the rainbow in their storm they need to get through that day, that moment. That is what has been stirred within my heart this week.
Be the light.