Dear Mr. Williams.
No. That's not right. I don't imagine you'd ever want to be called Mr. Williams.
Dear Robin doesn't sound right, either. Could you just be Robin? A sidekick to someone else's Batman?
No. That's not it.
Dear Mork? That's getting closer. Ork calling Mork is probably even better.
Dear Genie and Peter Pan and Mr. Keating and Adrian Cronauer and Mrs. Doubtfire and oh my God there are way too many characters to even attempt to name a fraction of them all...
No. It's not quite right. Let's go with...
Hey you. Yeah, you. The ubiquitous face from my childhood. The face who made me laugh when I wanted to cry, to cry when I wanted to laugh.
Thank you for bringing joy and laughter into so many of our households for so many years. Thank you for the movies that made me laugh. Thank you for Aladdin, which I used to watch while laying on my brother's water bed (Yes. Waterbed.). I can still sing all the songs.
Thank you for Good Morning Vietnam. It came out when I was very young (eight, in fact) and I remember watching it with my father and laughing, though half the time I didn't get the jokes. I get them now. You made a distant topic (the Vietnam War) feel close and immediate and important. Later, when I found myself very sick with Lyme's Disease, it reminded me that, as much as it sucked to be sick, at least I was home and safe and warm and dry.
Thank you for Hook. Oh my God, thank you for Hook. I watched it over and over as a child, and when I recently introduced it to my daughter, Zoe, I half-expected to hate it, that it wouldn't live up to my memories. But the magic of that movie was unchanged for me, and when Zoe asked to watch it again the following morning I was thrilled to turn it back on. To see a grown man be so fresh and playful and fun is to see something magic.
Thank you for Mork and Mindy. Thank you for that, the show that made me giggle when I was so small I can hardly remember. Thank you for being funny and bright.
Thank you for Dead Poets Society, which came out two days after my 10th birthday. You taught me to love words, to love life, and you taught me to YAWP. You taught me that teachers care (an important lesson for a 10-year-old already bored with school), and that students sometimes teach.
And listen: I know you didn't write these movies. I know you didn't create them. But you created the characters from your own flesh and blood. From your own heart. You made them feel so real, like I knew them, and you often made me fall in love.
Hey you. Yeah, you. You with the rubber face and the kind blue eyes. I'm so grateful for all you gave our world.
It seems like every time there's a celebrity death, the reaction is greatly divided. Some people take to social media to be sad; others to complain that we, the ones who didn't know you, have no right to be sad; others to spout angry vitriol at the newly dead. But you. Yeah, you. I want you to know that last night on all the social media I follow, I saw only sadness. Profound sadness. And regret that we'd never get to see you again. And regret that, for all the laughter you shared, it seems we couldn't give enough back to you in the end.
And to those who say we, the little people, can't mourn, I say this: our relationships with the faces that populated our childhood (faces like yours, you see) are simple and elegant, with none of the complexities indigenous to real-life relationships. We saw only the good in you, and we loved you for all that good. I mourn the loss of someone I loved from afar.
Also, to those curmudgeons, I'll add this: if the funniest man in a generation could succumb to depression, couldn't any of us? Don't we all know someone battling depression on some level? Wake up, people. Depression is a thing and it's real and it's far more dangerous than we like to admit. If you love someone who's fighting it, help them. If you're fighting it yourself, don't fight alone. Please.
But this isn't about that. This is about you, sir. Mr. Williams. Robin. The man who made us all so happy.
Thank you for that. Thank you for the laughs, the tears, the memories. Thank you for all you gave this world.
To die is an awfully big adventure, it's true. But to have lived, and to have brought so much joy onto this planet....that was an awfully big adventure, too. I thank you for letting us be a part of it.