A Little Red Ball of Hope

Daniel Kessel shares how one reader was comforted after Robin Williams’ tragic death.

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Posted in , Sep 15, 2014

Assistant editor Daniel Kessel

Today’s guest blogger is assistant editor Daniel Kessel.

I was just a first grader when my grandparents took me and my brother to see Jumanji in theaters, but I still remember it clearly. Robin Williams lit up the screen in everything he starred in, from Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire to the movies I came to love when I was older, like Awakenings and Dead Poets Society.

News of his death last month struck a chord with everyone I know. Somehow, it felt personal. How could we lose someone so talented, so beloved, seemingly before his time?

I spent that Sunday evening after he passed away watching his 1991 movie The Fisher King on a rooftop in the city, in awe of this man who had spent his life entertaining and delighting millions.

I know I wasn’t the only one who had Robin Williams in mind that day. This week, I came across a story from reader Angie Hott of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, about an inexplicable experience she had that Sunday morning in church–a story that teaches us to hold onto hope even in the face of uncertainty:

"On that Sunday morning, I sat next to my husband Dan as we lowered our heads for the morning prayer. But my eyes were wide open, and honestly, I couldn’t focus on praying. I stared at the floor, my heart heavy after the past week, still confused and upset about Robin Williams’s death.

"I couldn’t make sense of it. Somehow, I just did not want to let him go. I filled my Netflix queue with every Robin Williams movie I could find.

"I’d always been a big fan, and I especially loved Patch Adams, based on the true story of a quirky doctor right here in West Virginia who comforted the sick with humor, wearing a big red clown nose as he did his rounds.

"My heart got even heavier two days after his death when the news reported that he’d been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

"There’s no cure for this terrible disease, and in addition to the well-known motor issues, many patients with Parkinson’s suffer from depression. I should know–Dan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008, and we’d done our research.

"Now, I was scared. The news had hit home. If Robin’s death was related to his Parkinson’s, what did that mean for me and my husband? Although Dan is not depressed, I know that he’s at risk. 

"Would he ever reach this point in his disease? Could I trust God to take care of us?

"As I sat there, straining to focus on the morning prayer, I noticed something small and red rolling across the floor. It stopped just shy of my left sneaker. I bent over and scooped it up in my hands. A little red ball, just like the clown nose Robin Williams wore in Patch Adams.

"I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to cry. Dan nudged me. 'Where did that come from?' he whispered.

"I didn’t have the answer, but then again, I didn’t need to. Sometimes it’s enough just having faith that everything will be okay."

Have you ever received a sign when you needed it most? We’d love to hear about it.

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