You're Free, Genie

I remember as a kid, and now as a semi­adult, watching Aladdin. Robin Williams was the voice of
Genie, a character who was caring, witty, and nothing but a total riot. Looking back on watching
that movie, I remember this feeling this immense connection with the genie. Even when I was five
and was only watching this movie because it was a popular Disney cartoon, Genie was an
automatic star, the only character that I gave my full attention thoughout the entire film. Robin
Williams was able to capture me, excite me. He made me want to help others even when it was
not in my best interest, and made me believe that dreams do come true in the end.
When I was a little older, maybe eight or nine, I saw Hook for the first time. I was at the age where
I could not wait to become an grown up. Peter Pan was already a familiar story, but Robin
Williams recreated the story and made it real. Paired with Julia Roberts as Tinker Bell, he stole
my heart with his struggle between growing up and staying a kid. His journey to Neverland was
not what captured me, but his childlike happiness that inspired me to enjoy not being a grownup
just yet.
I was about 15 when Robin Williams really became a significant part of my life. I first watched
Dead Poet’s Society in one of my English classes. I felt a gambit of emotions, particularly
confusion as to why all teachers couldn’t be like Robin Williams. Then I saw The Birdcage, and it
instantly became one of my favorite movies. Then I started watching Mork and Mindy with my
mom after school. Then I saw Good Morning, Vietnam. Then Good Will Hunting, Jumanji, Patch
Adams, One Hour Photo, RV, License To Wed, August Rush. There has not been a film that stars
Robin Williams that I have not loved, connected with, laughed with, and not willing to watch over
and over again.
But what impressed me the most about Robin Williams was how he was able to transform himself
into a comedic genius on stage, when in reality, he was fighting just to stay alive.
Robin Williams was a depressed addict. Struggling with alcoholism and cocaine addiction early in
his career, he made the decision to stay sober for his family and for his career. Even when he fell
off the wagon, he never looked back. He admitted himself to rehab, got back on his feet, then
went back to work. No matter what was thrown at him, he always tried so hard to be happy, and
that’s not such an easy thing to accomplish.
Wesley was 17 years old when he hung himself. I didn’t find out until the next day, and I could
barely function. This boy had been dating my sister for what felt like her whole life. He had
become a part of the family, a son to my mom and dad, a grandchild to my grandmother, and a
brother to me. When he killed himself, a part of me died with him. It has been a year and two
months since I was told that Wesley no longer existed, and it hurts just as much today as it did
then. I never thought that I would feel that type of pain again, or at least I hoped that I never
would. But surprisingly, I felt a very similar pang on my heart strings a little over a month ago.
Robin William hung himself on August 11th. I remember reading the news and feeling the same
remorse, anger, and sinking depression that I felt when Wesley committed suicide. When I think
of these two men, I cannot understand how they could not see what I saw: wonderful, caring,
talented, and influential men.
Suicide takes away almost 40,000 Americans every single year. Just think ­ what if these
Americans had lived? What kind of impact could they have had on me, on you, on this world?
Even for someone like Robin Williams, who clearly had talent, and was being recognized for it,
practically every day of his life, he still could not live another day with this weight on his should ­
that he was not enough.
He was enough. Wesley was enough. And to anyone who has ever thought that they are not
enough ­ you are enough.

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