Mr. Cope’s Cave: Dear Robin



And bud, I mean that with no irreverence, no mockery, no cuteness. I just mean it. Bummer. I can almost see you saying it—bum-mer—the way you said stuff with your whole face and shoulders and arms and everything. Part grin, part grimace, eyes twinkling. We all thought it was impish, those twinkling eyes. Who knew then, huh?

Bum-mer. I hope it doesn’t seem inappropriate to use such a dusty old word, but I think you must know what I mean. Excuse me if I’ve misinterpreted, but I thought I sensed it all along. On stage, in movies, during interviews. That manic, staccato, Robin Williams delivery, as wild and unpredictable as all the Marx Brothers at once, so unrelenting it could get at times exhausting to behold. But then, there was always that hint of something else pushing it, fueling it. A darker, bum-mer presence lurking within that endless energy that made us notice you in the first place, then kept our eyes on you for the next 40 years.

Like… Hey! Is this a wonderful, crazy, fucked-up thing we share with all these wonderful, crazy, fucked-up people… or what? Or did you forget? Did you stop paying attention? Did it get to be too much sometimes? Well that’s what I’m here for, to bring some wonderment of it back. To splash some color back into that deepening fog. That’s what I do, that’s what I’m for. And we’re all going to laugh and laugh and laugh. But listen, if it still gets to be too much for you, just remember, we’re gonna die and then it’ll be over.


That’s it, isn’t it? That’s why you did it? You couldn’t abide that damnable shadow roaming around in your hyperactive mind any longer. It wasn’t the drugs, it wasn’t the money problems, that’s what I think. You could have fixed all that. But Robin, you just couldn’t live any longer with the prospect of an end to joy, an end to mirth, an end to bouncing about in this wonderful, crazy, fucked-up thing. This thing we all share, this thing we all depart, this thing you splashed with so much color and joy and mirth in a lifetime of splashing.

Of course, not many of us will leave such a lasting engraving on this thing. Mrs. Doubtfire alone will ensure you a place in the collective memory. And what you did in The Birdcage?… brother, that may have been the tipping point in something that changed the heart of this country. When I think about it, it’s like you weren’t so much an actor, a comic, anything as mundane as that. It’s like you were a throbbing elemental particle. A fruitful season unto yourself. A fecund, fundamental essence that we’ve grown so accustomed to having around that you’re sudden departure leaves us stunned and bewildered.

Robin, there’s nobody to take your place. It’s as simple as that.

And this is where the bummer gets so personal. I missed you horribly the moment I heard you were gone, but it’s more than that. See, most of us aren’t going to opt out so early. Most of us are going to slog on, facing that damnable shadow a little more clearly every day that passes. Most of us are going to stick it out to the bloody end, hanging on dearly to every last shred of what still makes it worth it. And let me tell you… I, for one, was counting on your company during that slog. I figured you’d be there to the finish line, goofy all the way, doing what you’ve always done. And it would have gone a long ways to making the last leg to this inevitable bummer more endurable.

Like… Hey! Is this a wonderful, crazy, fucked-up mortal coil we share with all these wonderful, crazy, fucked-up infirm, weak and confused and depressed old people who know the end is coming and that there’s nothing we can do about it… or what? 

And we could have laughed and laughed and laughed.