As a 4-year old kid with Leukemia, two years of my life was spent bedridden in a children’s cancer treatment center. A sort of purgatory, surrounded by neither death nor life, was the closest thing I could call home. Children fatigued with chemotherapy treatments wander aimlessly in that cold and dark place. The constant sound of beeping heart monitors faintly protrud the silence. No light, no laughter, no life; it was a place of nothingness, and nothing close to a real childhood.
The only escape was a small 5×5 hanging TV. As a kid, nothing could bring me more joy and laughter than this tiny little TV. That’s where I saw Robin Williams for the first time in the film “Hook.”
Sword-swinging ruffians, egg shooting guns, food fights with imaginary food, and of course, the one and only Rufio. What more can a little boy ask for? You wanted to be part of the Lost Boys. You wanted that “no parents, do anything” attitude. You wanted to fly just like Peter Pan. You wanted to believe in him. It was a film so magical to me that for a while nothing mattered outside of that bed. I was engrossed in the realm of Neverland. That’s what great films do – momentarily suspend your sense of reality and establish beliefs like honor, courage, and resilience.
I believed that if I could believe in anything hard enough, anything could become reality. That’s what “Hook” taught me. That’s what Peter Pan taught me. That’s what Robin Williams taught me.
Sometimes we are profoundly influenced by a being. Something so warm can bring joy and happiness where nothing outside those moments mattered. Robin Williams was that person to me.
Outside of TV I have never met or known him personally, but from Genie, to Mrs. Doubtfire, to the wild man in “Jumanji,” he was that long-distant best friend that made life worth laughing with. A generation of childhoods will forever be fond of his outrageous antics, uncanny impersonations, and his ability to bring a lifetime of laughter. Thank you Robin Williams.
By Stephen Dullano