A year ago today I lost a friend. A friend I never met.
Now … he never met me, odds are he never even heard of me, but he affected my life and he was there in my happy and dark times as only a close friend can be. I bought his first comedy album and it scandalized my mother. She thought of him as Mork, and family friendly, but he introduced some adult humor and dark thoughts into my young brain. She took the album away, and it took me a very long time to find it and steal it back. (I swapped the record and kept Robin in a “Sound of Music” sleeve.)
He introduced me to poetry and Hemingway. Wolfe and Van Gogh. All day today these fractured souls have been entertaining me. All suicides. Mad men and women who lived with such incredible passion that it seemed to burn them. Eventually, for whatever reasons, they took their exits.
The pouring out of soul is crucial. We, the entertainers and poets and storytellers and artists all have a need to share our love and yes, our pain, too. From personal experience it heals. It heals me and it heals many of the people I touch with my silly card tricks and ‘witty’ patter. I’m privileged to have this gift.
One of the drawbacks, and it’s a big one, is that my family has had to share me. That isn’t a picnic. Being recognized and stopped in public became a really sticky issue very early. I kind of enjoyed the spotlight, but it was too often foisted on my loved ones who didn’t really want me to be Hannibal all the time. Also, in my blogging and social media, I’ve shared with you … not exactly secrets … but personal feelings and thoughts that they felt should have remained within the family circle. Alas … this heart gets worn on my sleeve and the older I get, the redder it becomes.
I never bought my wife a proper engagement ring. In fact .. I’m not certain I ever proposed. We just decided and leapt.
People ask why I decided to become a magician, why this particular craft? But it really just happened. I found I was good at it and I leapt. That leaping changed my life. After years of struggle and heartache and fears and really hard work … I found success. Monetary, okay, sure … but way more than that. I found that my sharing of myself helped people. Changed and saved lives.
Robin and Ernest and Virginia and Vincent … they shaped and changed and saved my life. I never met them, but they touched me and millions of others. We … the artists and magicians and jugglers and painters and seamstresses and poets … here we are and here are our souls. Life is hell, sometimes. We take the shit of life and, as artists, we strive to create something that gives you genuine joy.
I often state “I hope that there’s love where you are.” And I genuinely mean it. All of us deserve love and sadly not all of us get what we need. That phrase, uttered and typed in love, has been used as a weapon against me. I’ve been mocked with it. Put down and called a hypocrite for it. That doesn’t make my intention any less true. I do hope there’s love where you are.
Robin took his life one year ago today and he left a massive hole in me that I haven’t been able to fill. He didn’t say why, or if he did his family has decided not to share. I miss him. I hurt for him. I’m still mad at him. (If you are ever hurting that badly, call me or contact me – even if I don’t know you.) If you consider me your friend … here I am.
I’m going forward, now. Things in my private life are somewhat catastrophic at the moment, but I’m going to keep breathing. On the very first show I did after Robin lost his battle, I made him a promise that I would pick up his flag and carry it. I may never be as well known, but I am giving you my heart from the page and the stage, and I won’t give up. If this post rambles, well, I hope you can carve some sense and comfort out of it.
Robin said “keep a little madness” and I am sticking with that. This means some of what I do won’t make sense. That’s life, right?
My friend, I miss you. I couldn’t be there for you because you didn’t know me at all. But maybe I can be there for someone else, and every night on my stage, I’ll be throwing magic as hard as I can to my unseen friends. For your attention, I’ll give you heart-wrought silver.
You, the beautiful one reading this? You’ve stuck with me for 815 words, now. Thank you. You can affect lives, too. You can save a soul. Please, find the love, find your path and walk it as far as it takes you. For what it’s worth, I believe in you and I love you.
Robin … and Ernest and Virginia and Vincent …. and Rene’ the Maestro … and Joey and Dee Dee and Tommy and Johnny … and really hundreds of other friends and shapers: Thank you.
I sincerely hope that there’s love where You are.