Sixteen years ago, I had a conversation with someone I loved. The last one we would ever have.
I was tired of playing the grown up. I was tired of helping him put himself back together. I asked him to step up and SHOW me he loved me. I asked him to be my father, once and for all.
I thought it would help. I thought it might be the one thing that could. I thought maybe his love for his children would be enough for him to change. I thought love could be enough.
It wasn't. One day, shortly after that, he opened his arms to the heavens, felt the wind in his face and left us. Forever.
He thought the world would be a better place without him in it. He just couldn't remember how all the pieces fit back together and he was tired of trying. He didn't want to ask us to help him any more.
For a very long time, all I could feel was anger. All I could let myself remember were the hard, sad times. The unkind words. The grief of a childhood lost to the darkness of depression. I had to convince myself that the world WAS a better place without him in it so that I could go on.
But it wasn't, and it isn't.
I didn't get to walk down the aisle on the arm of my father. I didn't get to watch his face as he held my babies. I don't get to hug him at Christmas time, or share a tim tam with him or ring him when I'm excited. I'll never know all the stories of his childhood.
I'll never stop feeling ripped off.
Only recently, I've started to remember the happy times. The giggles and the laughter. The times that I enjoyed such dizzying heights of fun and happiness. I had some pretty interesting experiences with my dad, as a kid. And I finally realise that those are worth remembering. As much as the darkness defined my childhood, the bright times did too. That's what life is like with a manic depressive.
And so, yesterday when I heard the news about Robin Williams, I remembered the man who made people laugh. The man who made some pretty spectacular mistakes but managed to laugh about them. A man who taught people to take it on the chin and march on.
To have battled the dark monster for so long takes bravery and spirit. I hope his children remember that. I hope they cherish the mayhem and the brightness he brought them.
I hope they can forgive.
Take it from someone who has lived this pain. It is ALWAYS worth putting the pieces back together. As battered and as wonky as you may feel, the world is always a better place with you in it. Somewhere, somebody is relying on you. You are their sun... or their moon... or a twinkling star in the fabric of their life. You are valued. You are worth it.