I know that you will never read this letter, but I need to write it in order to express both my gratitude and my disappointment at your untimely departure.
I remember seeing you for the first time in the series “Mork & Mindy”. Although I was not a big fan of yours at that time, I truly enjoyed the little I saw of it. The first significant moment in your career for me was the movie “The World According to Garp.” However, its impact on me was indirect because I never saw it. It deeply moved some of my friends, encouraging them to make radical decisions that changed their lives.
The second important point in your career for me happened when I was studying my masters in the United States. I got used to see you on late-night TV, through which I learned to appreciate the complexity and depth of your routines, impersonations and improvisations.
Third, you had a huge impact on the life of my son, Antonio José. I do not know how many times we saw “Mrs Doubtfire”. I also lost count of how many times we saw “Aladdin.” And I remember with deep love the Aladdin parade at one of the theme parks in Orlando.
You were a constant presence in my son’s childhood. You were to him what Richard Pryor was for me: The comedian who helped me get in touch with the thousand voices and a thousand stories that follow me everywhere.
I also appreciated your dramatic roles, particularly those made for “Law & Order.” And I will never forget your perfect imitation of the Puerto Rican accent. Like the time at Comic Relief when you impersonated the guy who shouted “Mira mami!” in middle of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York. Or the time when, at Letterman, you suggested that a gang of young Puerto Ricans in New Jersey were selling cheap the stolen solar panels of the “Space Probe”, the ship that NASA had lost.
I have always admired intelligence and humor, and comedians who can combine both elements.
My son did not want to read anything about your death. Me neither. But I could not avoid listening to the replay of the interview you had on”Fresh Air” of NPR News in 2006. Terry Gross pointed questions focused on topics such as mental health, addiction and depression. Your answers were brilliant, as always, and your comedy was impeccable. However, a lie stood out among your answers; it stood out because it was completely out of place among all the truths you said while making us laugh. You said you were not clinically depressed; that you only had brief moments of sadness.
It was then that you let me down. Maybe if you had not deceived yourself, you would have understood that you were severely depressed, becoming a danger to yourself and to others. Your answer made me angry. My anger then became sadness and let me in tears by the end of the interview
Robin, I thank you for all the laughs, for all the good times and for leading us to think differently. By the same token, I hope that the cold reality of your suicide may move thousands of depressed people to seek the help they need to overcome their chronic black clouds of sadness. Life is a gift from God!
Otherwise, you will live in every conversation where my son and I embark on a long and improvised comedy routine, making the people we love most laugh, with the thousand voices and a thousand stories that we carry inside.