When Robin Williams took his own life in 2014, the world collectively mourned. The 63-year-old committed suicide in his California home after a long battle with depression. It was later attributed to the Lewy Body Dementia which was consuming his mind.
The news came as a colossal shock because Williams himself was synonymous with laughter. The actor and comedian was an iconic figure in the entertainment industry, especially in humorous movies like Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)and Flubber (1997). It was hard for his fans to understand how their comedic idol had succumbed to depression when, on the surface, he was always smiling. However, one person who may have had an early insight into the Chicago-born actor’s deeper troubles was lawyer and writer, Kate Osher, who’d met Williams at LAX airport as she attempted to transport her husband’s ashes across the country. Tragically, Osher’s husband of eight years took his own life on May 18, 2002. Still raw with emotion from the unexpected events that had hit her, Osher was finding the journey a challenge. But that all changed when she met Robin Williams. “Post 9/11 it wasn’t always easy to get a Tupperware of your late husband’s ashes through TSA security, and at LAX one afternoon I found myself on the receiving end of an agent with a power trip like no other,” she revealed. “After several threats telling me I was going to have to toss the ashes, and me going ballistic and falling into hysterics and finally having a real cop come in and look at the death certificate I always carried with me, I made it to the airport bar still crying and clutching my little container.” Crippled by the whole experience combined with the tragedy she’d faced, Osher was hysterical. Sitting in the airport bar with a whiskey on the rocks, her face towards the wall so that other travelers couldn’t see how emotional she was, Osher felt a hand on her shoulder. “A soft voice stated, ‘Miss, I just want to be sure you are OK. I see you are traveling alone, and I saw what happened, and I just really want to be sure you are OK.’,” Osher recounted for The Mighty. “Through my tears, I could place the voice but couldn’t actually believe Robin Williams was just casually strolling through LAX and would actually take the time to stop to see if I was OK.” “I was still crying that ugly cry where you are trying to catch your breath, and I gave him the Cliff Notes version of circumstances. His eyes got a little glossy. His voice got softer,” Osher continued. “He said to me, ‘Addiction is a real b*tch. Mental illness and depression are the mother of all b*tches. I am so sorry for all the pain your husband was in. I’m so sorry for the pain you are in now. But it sounds like you have family and friends and love. And that tips the scale a bit, right?’ And he walked me to the gate, as we were on the same commercial flight.” “During our walk to the gate, he got me laughing. Impersonating people we passed by. Making fun of the TSA agents, especially the one who gave me such a hard time. In a playful way though. Not insulting (even though the guy totally deserved to be insulted).” “He told me I had a wonderful laugh. A beautiful smile. And when we parted ways, he hugged me. With his famously hairy arms, he gave me a huge, warm, bear hug, and it sustained me. It was a moment I think about all the time. That moment saved me.” When Osher heard the news of Williams passing, she was – as we all were – devastated. However, for her, the pain of his loss was particularly potent because the actor ended his life in the same way that her husband had all those years before. In an attempt to open the floor for discussion surrounding mental health, Osher shared her story for the first time and, as expected, it received an enormous amount of support. “I just have so many tears while reading it,” wrote one user. Another reader of The Mighty typed, “Thank you for sharing this story. It made me appreciate him even more than I already did.” “Based on little stories told to me before Robin passed I can say his helping you meant as much to him as it did to you,” wrote another user, who had briefly known Williams through their mutual love of cycling. Check out this video which details even more of Williams’ incredible acts of kindness: Williams has left an impressive legacy behind him, but even so, it is hard not to miss him. Only yesterday I watched Good Will Hunting (1997) and felt a twinge of pain when Williams character was introduced. Gone but not forgotten has never been apter.