Friends’ memories come flooding back after Robin Williams’ death | Editor's Notebook

Talk about ominous timing.

For a while now, we’ve been meaning to write a story about NAMI Eastside, the Redmond-based National Alliance on Mental Illness. This is the week, and while reporter Samantha Pak was meeting with NAMI representatives on Monday afternoon, the terrible news broke: actor and comedian Robin Williams, 63, had died of an apparent suicide in his Tiburon home in Marin County in northern California (on Tuesday, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office said Williams hanged himself).

“Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss,” his publicist said in a statement.

I’m familiar with a lot of Williams’ work, but his poignant performances in “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society” especially moved me. I thought of those movies and many of his heartfelt scenes on Monday afternoon while sitting at work.

While the 90-plus-degree heat persisted outside, I felt a cold chill move throughout my body. It was an eerie experience, and although I couldn’t discern it right away, I soon knew what was happening as I began to think about my three friends who took their own lives over the last 15 years.

Phil, Johnny and Patrice either had bipolar disorder or depression and it saddens me to think about what they were going through each day. Life is not easy, but many of us have no idea how tough it was for those three and countless others in their similar situations.

The families and friends of all three tried their best to help their loved ones, but it wasn’t enough. Medication wasn’t enough.

I think back fondly about each one of them: Phil and Johnny were pals from San Jose and Seattle who were passionate about music and were witty in a Williams sort of way. He would have been proud of my friends. Patrice was a friend from southern California who encouraged me to continue on my writing path, especially when it comes to music; I do that when I can on various music blogs and in this paper, as well.

I had forgotten that Williams spent a lot of time in Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach — cities near my childhood home — until a friend reminisced on Facebook on Monday about seeing him a few times on the beach back in the day. I’m sure it was a peaceful time for him then, strolling on the sand and maybe chuckling about life a bit.

I hope, wherever they are, my three friends and Williams are at peace, either strumming their guitars or watching the waves crash in the distance.


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