I would be lying if I said last week wasn't hard. There is death and destruction all around us in this great big world and sadly, no one is safe from it. There is war and political unrest that is tearing apart homes, cities, and families.
I don't watch the news for this reason. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop these atrocities from happening. It lessens my awareness but doesn't change the situation.
I can't help thinking I'm not alone in my-not-watching-the-news world, but something happened this week that made me stop and pay attention.
After hearing the news and thinking on it for a few days, I said to my mom, "I'm really sad and I can't figure out why. I know I didn't know him but his death makes me feel sad and hurt. I don't really get it."
She thought about it for a while and then she said something that I hadn't thought of before: "He made you laugh. When people can bring you to that place, you form a connection to them. It's like they understand what you find funny and it feels like a personal connection. It's the universality of comedians, I think. They make us laugh when they make fun of something that happens to everyone, like family dynamics or how we act in a grocery store when people in front of us take too long to decide on an item. But in the end, strangers don't make you laugh, you know? Friends do that."
Before she finished talking, I found myself nodding in agreement. Comedians have an interesting place in our lives. They are wholly outside of our everyday, however we end up feeling very close to them. Also, they are comedians. They are professionally funny. Surely they don't suffer from depression or illness?
Losing Robin Williams reminds me that this isn't the case. Sometimes being funny just another way of dealing with pain and addiction. Losing Robin Williams reminds me that depression and mental illness don't see our successes but focuses on our failures. It doesn't see our wealth but shows us where we are poor.
Today at church, I saw an old family friend and his wife. We used to go to the same church years ago and after we moved to my current church, they followed us shortly after. My parents got pretty involved kind of quickly, but this other couple didn't for whatever reason. I don't see them very often and honestly, I'm not even sure they would remember me. But today as we were singing our last hymn, I happened to look over at them. He was standing, holding a shaking hymnal in his hand, struggling to find the page. I watched him, Parkinson's Disease rearing it's ugly head close to home. I cried. I cried for the suffering he was facing. I cried for Robin, understanding only a tiny portion of what it must have been like to get a diagnosis like that.
But after my tears stopped, I looked over again at the couple. Now they were both standing, the troublesome hymnal safely stored in the pew rack. They stood together. Not singing, but standing in solidarity. Sometimes when our hands shake, we just want to know that someone else is there.
I don't know what life has thrown your way recently. I don't know if everything is coming up sunshine and roses for you. I don't know if this is the 10th day in a run of horrible no-good days for you. But I do know that no matter what is going on, there is someone in your life who is willing to listen to you and offer help. If things are going great for you right now, maybe YOU are that person for someone else. Sometimes conversations about depression and the bad days of life are hard to have but I promise they are important.