When Death Comes

We’ve been seeing a stream of commentary over the last day or so about the death of Robin Williams, an actor beloved by so many people. I was shocked and saddened when I heard the news.

Death always saddens us, and particularly so when someone takes his own life. I think that for those of us who do not suffer from deep depression, it is inexplicable that someone would feel so bereft as to take his/her own life.

We can say many things in tribute to this particular man – and much has already been said. I will simply add, in the words of Mary Oliver, Robin Williams did not “end up simply having visited this world.”

Here is Mary Oliver’s When Death Comes:

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.