There are quite a number of things that I know absolutely nothing about, and I can't do math, and truthfully, I have a hard time naming more than, oh, 10 presidents. Also, my geography is sketchy.
But suicide? I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I feel like I know a thing or two.
Naturally, I wish I didn't. I'd much rather know nothing about suicide and instead be able to list all the presidents and fill in the map of the U.S. accurately. And Canada. Or know nothing about suicide and still not be able to do math or geography or whatever. It's not like it's one or the other, is it?
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I'd like to not feel it so personally when I hear about a suicide.
I'd like to not, when I hear the word "asphyxiation," run through my mental list of options.
I'm not surprised by how many people are devastated by the death of Robin Williams. He was brilliant. He was hilarious and devastating and intense. He made you feel, really feel.
And he seems to have been a truly good, kind, generous human being as well, someone who cared about other people and worked to promote good in the world.
He lived bigger and funnier and kinder and just generally more than most people.
How horrible is it to lose that combination, ever? And then how much worse when you know the person took their own life? How can you take such a big life? How can you make so many people laugh, bring so much joy to so many...and be in so much pain yourself?
Because knowing that, you know that they had reached a point of desperation, of utter despair. That they felt absolutely unable to remain with those they loved and everything they knew and loved on this earth.
Yes, for me it is so personal, even though I did not know Robin Williams, to think about this person with a brilliant spark extinguishing it himself. Walking off the stage, turning out the lights, and leaving us, the audience, sitting stunned in the dark.
It crushes me to think about. It sticks in my throat and won't go away. It seeps down my face, warm and salty and sly.
But I'm mourning not so much for us, but for him. We have lost - but he was clearly in so much pain that he felt he could not stay.
I've thought a lot about suicide over the years. I've thought about it way too much, really. And one thing I've realized is that while I've sometimes been so miserable I've wanted to not be me, I've never wanted to not BE.
You know, I was certain I could save my dad. I recently told my friend Richard that I was shocked when he died. And Richard said, "Shocked? Lisa, shocked, really?"
How could I be shocked after so many times?
But I was. Because I was always sure I could save him.
And yet I now know that even if someone had found him alive, somehow, that one last time, and we'd once again hooked him up to machines and held his hand and prayed and prayed, I now know he was already beyond us. He was done.
Although we might've physically been able to keep him a little longer, to force him to stay with us for us, he was an empty shell. Well, almost empty. There was pain. There was no joy.
So to know that someone - particularly someone with a dazzling life force - got to that place, where ceasing to live was the only option, because being was no longer something they could bear...
That place and that pain, I think, is what makes me cry and cry.