EDITOR’S NOTE: We decided to try something a little different for the next few weeks. Each staff member will write a letter to someone they never met but wish they had. Perhaps a hero. Maybe a villain. Maybe someone never known to the larger world. Real or fictional. Alive or dead. Below is Part 1 of our 5-part series. We hope you find this exercise in literary fantasy intriguing.
Today, August 11, 2020 marks the sixth anniversary of comedian/actor Robin Williams’ death. Around the time of Robin’s’ passing, I sat down and composed the letter I wish I’d written him. It is as follows:
Dear Mr. Williams,
I know everyone is probably doing something similar to this right now—or will soon. But I want to write the letter I never got around to.
See, I used to want to write to you. I didn’t know you at all beyond your movies. And, as a child, I only knew you by the singular film: Hook. In hindsight, I know now it was hardly your best work. But it was the story that always stayed with me.
I always identified with Peter Pan, often declaring long and loud to anyone who cared to listen “I never want to grow up!” I knew I had to–I wasn’t THAT detached from reality–but I made sure everyone knew I wasn’t happy about it.
I wanted so badly to live in Neverland. There were plenty of other fantasy worlds I knew of–Narnia, Middle Earth, Toyland—but Neverland was the only one that guaranteed you could be a child forever.
I didn’t watch the movie because of you; I watched it because of Peter Pan. But you became Peter Pan—the Peter who decided to grow up after all and then returned to his roots in Neverland to save his children.
I was far too young to appreciate all the themes in the film, but I loved that movie. I watched it over and over and over. Every time the end credits rolled I felt this sad, hollow ache in my chest to see it end. It was magical and your whole-hearted portrayal helped keep it that way from beginning to end.
I would often watch it at my Grandma’s house on the weekends. I remember, at some point, I wanted to write you a letter. I wanted to tell you how much Hook meant to me and say “Thank you for making this movie.” But I think, even then—especially then—I was intimidated. I knew celebrities received mountains of fan mail. And what would my little scrawled note do that all the paper love in the world you obviously had wouldn’t? And so I never did.
I grew to know some of your other movies:
Dead Poet’s Society
Jakob The Liar
Man of the Year
Night at the Museum
House of D.
They weren’t all gold, but no matter what I saw you in, you always gave your all.
I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry that your life hurt too much. I don’t know why you couldn’t keep going. I can’t pretend I do. Maybe it didn’t even hurt. Maybe you were just tired. I don’t know.
Whatever the reason was, Mr. Williams, I’m sorry. Sometimes I’ve just wanted everything to stop hurting. And sometimes I’ve wished I could just die so it would stop. I’m sorry it was too dark for you to see any light.
And I’m sorry I didn’t write you this letter sooner.
For comforting a lonely, dreaming child, Mr. Williams, you have my unending gratitude. Thank you so much for giving your all to inspire your audience, whatever age you aimed for. And the way I will remember you, Mr. Williams, will be standing on a balcony with windblown hair, surrounded by family and wearing a wonder-filled grin, saying, “To live, to live will be an awfully big adventure.”
Click on picture below to play Lost Boys Tribute to Robin Williams