To those who’ve survived the suicide of a loved one, each new suicide brings ripples of our own personal loss. The famous ones, the beloved actors, musicians, comic geniuses seem to float face down in gigantic resonant pools – – reminding us of the ones we knew who left too soon.
No use beating around the bush: Todd Godwin was a huge Robin Williams fan.
“What Dreams May Come” – the 1998 Vincent Ward film based on the 1978 Richard Matheson novel was certainly not one of Robin Williams funnier films, though it was one of Todd and my favorites. It will be a tough one to watch now, it deals intimately with suicide and it posits a kind of purgatory that might result from the act. In the horrifying place it shows, a suicide who has left our world cannot move on, can’t meet their loved ones, is doomed to forever wander an abandoned house, not even realizing they are dead.
But it was the segment of the film where Robin Williams’ character crosses over and has a glorious reunion with his deceased dog that Todd loved the most. And as two boys who grew up in a house of loss (our father passed away from cancer in 1963), Todd and I were both moved by the film’s notion that we might meet our deceased loved ones in an afterlife. Since Todd’s death in 2011 I’ve sometimes comforted myself with these ideas. I’ve seen him out there in the fields of flowers having pow-wows with my grandfathers and romping (free of foot pain) with his dog Tito, who died just before him.
Today, amidst my feelings of terrible loss and shock, I pictured Todd welcoming Robin to some kind of afterlife and having a great new pal to prank around with. They run with their dogs, they laugh at all of it, at all of us, at the great predicament of life, and as Robin’s characters frequently seemed to, they do so with tears of joy.