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My Lunch With Robin Williams

March24

It was a beautiful summer afternoon in New York City. It was my annual trip to meet Robin Williams for our birthday lunch. It was much by accident that we realized we shared July 21st as our birthday, but once we did, we made it a point to meet the day before, every year for the past 9 years, to catch up and share some time together.

It was a typical Sunday in the Village. We sat in a corner table on the outside patio of a small sandwich shop off Waverly Place. It wasn’t too crowded for 1pm. The sidewalk was more filled with passer-byes than anything. Robin and I always enjoyed people watching, that day would be no different. He had a wonderful imagination and a knack for creating someone else’s story. I think that’s where we connected the most; our humor and creativeness.

We spoke about his upcoming projects, especially the third and final installment of ‘The Night at the Museum’ series. He told me that Ben Stiller is one of the most talented individuals in Hollywood, to which I agreed. He asked me how things were going with my writing and I told him about my plans for making a real push in 2015 to finally get published and write full-time. He never was without an encouraging word. They still echo in my mind; “Do it Jay, your words make people feel. When they read your work, they know they’re alive.” Our conversation soon turned to family. He always beamed with pride when he mentioned his kids. Zak, Zelda and Cody were truly the light of his eye. If you take away all the fame and laughter, Robin’s life was still complete. As he once said, “those three are my greatest creations.”

His daughter Zelda was getting into acting and recently appeared in a few television episodes and signed on to a small budget feature film. Although very excited for her, his concern that the same demons that engulfed him early on was evident when he spoke of her growing career. As parents we never really stop worrying. I shared with him the latest on Michael, Diana and Stevie. I told him Michael was now stationed in California after serving three years in Japan with the US Navy. Robin promised to make it a point to reach out to him once he got back to the West Coast.

Before we knew it, the afternoon had passed us by and the dinner crowd started to shuffle in. Hours flew by anytime Robin and I got together. Before leaving, he confided in me that he’d recently been diagnosed with early stage Parkinson’s Disease. I could tell it worried him. The unknown wasn’t something Robin was comfortable with. Even if on stage he appeared to be out of control, his chaos was always self-contained. The news set heavy with me, but I knew that he had a great support system with friends and family and told him I’d be there in any way I could. Without too much hoopla, we parted with a hug, a ‘happy birthday’ and a ‘same time next year’.

I had no idea when I stepped off the train in Grand Central Station that morning, it would be the last day I would see or speak to Robin alive. Three weeks after our lunch, Robin hung himself in his home. He left behind a wife, three children, close friends, countless fans and a legacy that will remember him as one of the funniest and most caring men to ever grace this place. The light of the world burns slightly less bright now that he is gone.

***

This is a fictitious account of my day with Robin Williams. It was inspired by a writing prompt in a writing group I am a part of. It asked us to pick one person in history, living or dead, to spend the day with and write about it. I chose Robin Williams because he was always one of my favorite human beings. I was saddened by his death and will forever remember him on July 21..our birthday.

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Jay Long’s 5 Point Writing Manifesto

January28

** I write to express my feelings. So much happens to the heart on a daily basis; from great joy to unthinkable pain. If I don’t get that out I feel as if it will surely burst.

** I write because I know out there someone else is feeling, or has felt, the exact emotion I am expressing. Those that may not be able to share a direct line between their soul, mind and fingers need to understand they are not alone.

** I write so that I don’t feel alone in the world. Everyone who reads my words gives me a voice that won’t ever be silenced. As long as these scattered letters are out there somewhere on a page, I leave a small piece of me with anyone who reads them.

** I write because without storytellers, history will endlessly repeat itself until our days are simply blurred lines between tomorrow, today and yesterday.

** I write because I am a writer.

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