Paying Tribute To My Cousin & A Great Comedian – Both Leaving Their Mark

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Usually when I write, I have a general idea of what I am trying to get across so I just start typing.  Sometimes my posts do get a bit wordy.  But for this post I really don’t have a clue on how to write this one.  After hearing about the tragic death of Robin Williams, I thought back to a relative who passed away within the last year under the same tragic circumstances.

Since I have suffered from depression and am involved in stand-up comedy, although I’m no expert I can to try and shed a bit of light on this subject, although it may leave me with more questions unanswered than anything.  They interviewed people on the street when Williams’s death was announced and one guy said something to the effect of “the ones that make us laugh the most aren’t so happy themselves.”

I really don’t have a commentary as to why comedians take their own lives, let alone indulge in life-threatening behaviours.  All I can do is draw from my own experiences.  When comedy was a struggle for me in the early going I was unemployed and homeless.  I was still relatively young so I knew there was my whole life ahead of me to live and achieve great things.  When life got bad, I tried harder with comedy as it gave me something to strive for while the rest of my world was falling apart around me.  When comedy got bad, it gave me the motivation in the morning to get up and try to find work, and that’s how that wheel turned for several months.

Robin Williams was a rare talent who could be silly and still be funny.

Then there was the news several months ago that my cousin, Donnie Reed committed suicide also.  He was married with four young children at the time, all under the age of 10 years old.  When I did some searching, I came across an alert the RCMP put out saying he was missing and that the family “feared for his safety.”  Then a couple days after the missing persons bulletin came out, Donnie was found.

Just like Robin Williams, my cousin Donnie was on the shorter side, and very personable and full of energy.  Donnie was a smart guy and was employed in Alberta with an energy company, from what I remember.  I hadn’t seen Donnie since before he got married and that was a handful of years ago.  Nobody from our family kept in touch with Donnie, the only time we heard how he was doing is when Auntie Cecile & Uncle Gordie sent a letter with their annual Christmas card letting us know.  Needless to say it still came as a shock when my mom called to let me know.

My mother calling me isn’t unusual.  What’s unusual is that she called me right after church on that particular Sunday.  Just the timing of the phone call was very odd and I figured something might be up.

I guess the thing that I don’t understand is how somebody can get to that point where they figure they are beyond help.  They both had successful careers, had family and friends who loved and adored them, yet still the dark cloud of depression was too much to overcome.

I am sure that if either one decided to pick up the phone and make a phone call to friends or family for help that they would have been welcomed with open arms almost immediately.  In today’s fast paced world, the one good thing about the times we live in is that depression is understood better and there are more resources available for people to use to get themselves better.  Not everyone can take advantage of those resources, but they are there on a much larger scale now.  Besides that, depression isn’t a taboo subject that gets swept under the rug either.

I can tell you that the type of depression Donnie and Robin probably had cast a much darker cloud over their lives that had a paralyzing grip over their lives.  When you are depressed the best thing sometimes is to be around people, whether it be at work or in a social setting because they can make you feel better about things.  But once you step off the comedy stage, or punch out the time clock at the end of the day, it’s back to reality, kind of the way reality hits you square in the jaw when your plane touches back down in Saskatoon after your vacation.  It’s been my experience that when you are depressed, you can have the best time surrounding yourself with others, but the minute you leave that situation and drive home by yourself or go back home to nobody being there, it doesn’t take very long for that dark cloud to settle back in with more ferocity than before.

I would like to think that there aren’t any problems a person can go through in life where they think it’s beyond help, that nobody will understand.  The world is a bigger place than it ever has been, and there are many people around the world, even in your own backyard, who are going through the same things you are.  The difference is, you just don’t know it.  The only time you find that out is when you are down, then others will share their stories with you so you can see that you aren’t alone.

There are sources of inspiration and help everywhere.  All you have to do is ask.

God, tonight I ask that you life up both Donnie and Robin into your loving arms and let them know that they are free from pain, that they have received the everlasting gift of love, mercy and grace, all unconditionally before either of them were born.  Thank you God for giving them special talents and abilities to have each make their mark in the world, leaving it a better place than before.  May their legacies that they leave behind be remembered for what they are; a shining example of humanity, kindness and generosity. Whatever demons they weren’t able to overcome, they have been removed from this Earth, while far too soon, they are now in your tender and loving care.  Thank you Lord for allowing us here in the physical realm to cherish these two men.  May the examples of the good works they left behind continue to inspire us, shape us and change us, now and forever more.



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