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Much like everyone, the passing of Robin Williams has left me with a sense of loss, even though I never met the man, and likely would never have met the man.

That does not lessen the loss in any way.

Mental illness and depression are stigmatized, maligned, and misunderstood diseases that more people deal with every year. Will Robin Williams’s untimely death finally be the key that unlocks the door to real conversation and open discussion between the sufferers and the ones that have always wondered why or how those suffering can’t just ‘suck it up?’

Reams have already been written about Williams’s devotion to comedy, and it goes without saying that he had a wholly unique gift to make others laugh. He played harder than anyone, finding that magical spark in a room that got everyone giggling. He always looked like he was having the time of his life up on stage, wriggling around with a delighted grin and a spark in his eye that got everyone going.

I grew up longing to be one of the greats of comedy. I watched Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, but the one that never ceased to amaze me was Robin Williams. His shows always seemed like they were strung together on the loosest of skeletons; a rip through the inner demonic Narnia that was Williams’s mind, and I wondered if I had any chance of ever finding that freedom, that verbal will to make my words do exactly what I wanted them to do.

The price Williams paid, the eternal battle with those same demons that allowed him to explode with ferocious energy with every performance, is beyond my capabilities. I can only thank the universe that it afforded this twisted spark of a man 63 years on this Earth to help us all forget our own internal wars, if even for just a little while.

Thank you, Mr. Williams. Yours was a special light, and may it burn beyond for all eternity.