Joey and the death of Robin Williams

The breaking TV news about the suicide of Robin Williams stopped Melissa and me in mid-conversation. It just shut us up and made us sad. At least one newscaster looked like she’d been in tears.

Over dinner as a family, as Joey downed two big Jimmy John’s tuna subs, we realized that we would not have to explain this to him. I thought I should say something (boy, how many disasters start that way), but thank God I refrained.

Joey loves Mrs. Doubtfire and Disney’s Aladdin, and he knows that Robin Williams is the star of those flicks, because the previews say so and Joey repeats what they say as Gospel truth.

One of the strange blessings of his autism is that Joey will not be part of generalized human sorrow. As long as he has TV, video, DVD, YouTube or whatever technology comes along, he’ll have Robin Williams. He has no reference points to comprehend “That face you see and voice you hear isn’t with us anymore.”

Cold, clinical explanations are clear that autistic people tend to lack empathy. So, Joey won’t be moved to grief (or, for that matter, anger or any other strong feeling) by the news of the day.

In some ways, that can be reinterpreted as a blessing. He won’t live in fear of Ebola or whatever the news says he should fear. He won’t be whipped into a frenzy against any particular group of people.

I’m rambling, I know. No deep conclusions in this – just some observations. And I’m glad I shut up and just observed and didn’t fill the dinner conversation with useless words. And I’m glad that Joey isn’t twisted this way and that by all of the stuff that twists the rest of us.

3 thoughts on “Joey and the death of Robin Williams

  1. We just looked at each other, looked at Joey and talked about other things. I mean really, what would have been the point?
    – Melissa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s