Writer’s Note: As we approach the first anniversary, I thought it appropriate to post something I wrote a few days after Robin Williams’ death shocked the world. It struck a deeply personal nerve for me, just as I know it did for the many who have lost friends and loved ones to depression and/or battled it alongside them.
Aug. 16. 2014
The recent death of Robin Williams has stirred up many feelings and emotions for many people around the globe, myself included. Suicide has taken or threatened to take people in my own world and so I know, firsthand, how very hard it is and how deep the wounds of those left behind. They not only are mourning the loss of their loved one, but they often are left to wonder if they somehow failed. If they knew there was a problem, why couldn’t they help? If they didn’t know, why didn’t they recognize the signs? Surely, there were signs.
The truth is there are some people you simply cannot accept at face value; those people who have become so skilled at hiding their depression and true feelings that others have difficulty seeing the reality of a hurting soul trapped in darkness. At least to those outside their inner circles, this seemed to be just such the case with Robin Williams as well as a young man with whom I worked. To the world, both were extremely outgoing, funny and loved by many. I can’t help but wonder if they hid behind a smiling mask because that is what the world expected from them. Did they feel responsible for being the happy one, even when they were feeling just the opposite inside? Did they help and inspire others, while all the while desperately needing someone to help them? Had the very thing that they had become known for become the burden that finally broke them?
Personally, I could see how that could happen. My friend whom I have come close to losing several times in the past few years became highly skilled at wearing a mask when in public. Thank God, she would occasionally slip it off, where we could try to bring everything she was hiding deep inside out in the open. It was hard. It was ugly. It was heart-wrenching. And it was impossible for her to shoulder alone. She needed something bigger than both of us combined. She needed God. Of course, God was always there, but sometimes she just needed someone to remind her; to help clear the fog and smoke so that she could see His sweet, sweet face; however many times it took. That’s where we can help. Is it easy? Absolutely not.
I can’t tell you how many mornings I felt a pit in my stomach wondering if this day would be the day I got “the call.” I felt helpless and imagined that this must certainly be what it feels like to have a loved one in a war zone. I suppose in a sense she was in a war zone. She was fighting for her very life, entrenched in heavy battle with satan and his evil army of demons. They surrounded her and, although they couldn’t physically lay a hand on her, they made so much noise and created so much smoke and fog that, alone, she found it hard to see her Creator. What she really needed was to be reminded that satan only turns up the heat when he sees time running out and her victory imminent. It’s his hail mary pass; his last ditch effort.
The thing is, we all have to remember that amidst all that smoke and noise, God is ALWAYS right there. He never leaves. Not even for a single second. Thank God, my friend found His hand again and made it back from many, many days, weeks and even months of wandering in a desert of hopelessness, darkness and despair. She made it to the other side of a very dark night and is today basking in the sunshine once again.
My prayer tonight is that the noise satan so loves to make will be squelched and the smoke dissipated so that all can see Him, in all His Glory. May God’s love and peace be with us all. Amen and Ehmen.