I was told later it had been three weeks, but to me it was like no time at all. I remember riding my bike and then the feeling of disconnecting, of lifting and dropping, and then I am waking up in the hospital and my mom gets the nurse and the nurse gets the doctor and when they take all the tubes out and I’m able to talk, I sit up and say, “Bitch what happened?” and everyone laughs.
That’s the story I tell, anyway. What I don’t include is what I remember in between what happened and waking up in the hospital. After falling off my bike and landing head first on a rock, I opened my eyes to find myself sitting on a couch, a loveseat, a loveseat in a living room, a living room in the daytime.
Instinctively I knew it to be San Francisco, a city where I’ve never been, but I knew this room, this house and what tipped me off was sitting across from me with his hands folded primly in his lap and that person was Robin Williams dressed as his character from Mrs. Doubtfire. I was in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, sitting across from Mrs. Doubtfire, who is Robin Williams, who was smiling and looking at me with sad eyes that said, I’m sorry we have to meet like this.
Before I could ask what was going on, the door punched in and a team of uniformed men spread out into the room and one stood between us and looked down at a clipboard. He looked up at me, then back down, then at me again, then at Robin Williams, and then at the clipboard one last time. He nodded at me, which was a signal to the rest of them and the uniformed men converged on the loveseat, not in a mean way, in a brusque—a routine way, like they have done so many of these already today and they have so many more to do.
They grabbed me and I felt the sensation of disconnecting again, of lifting and falling, and they were taking me out into the alien white sun of the East Bay morning, or were before Mrs. Doubtfire rose and placed a hairy knuckled hand on the shoulder of the uniformed man with the clipboard.
“It’s me you want,” he said in the Scottish sing-song voice he used for the movie.
The uniformed man consulted the clipboard. He shook his head.
“It’s a mistake,” Robin Williams said in his regular voice. “Everyone makes mistakes. Take it from me. Ever see Patch Adams?” The uniformed man shook his head again. “Exactly my point,” Robin Williams said.
The uniformed man with the clipboard held up one finger and then another. He wanted both of us.
Robin Williams shook his head. “Only me, sport.” You could see his resolve from beneath the prosthetics and an unfriendly moment passed in the living room.
The uniformed man with the clipboard blinked first. With a nod, they placed me back on the loveseat. The uniformed men swarmed Robin Williams and carried him out the door. It slammed shut behind them and that’s when my eyes opened in the hospital room. A week later I would learn that the day I woke up from the coma was the day Robin Williams killed himself.
Never told anyone, because how could I? What would I say? They’d expect me to make sense of it and that’s something I’ve never been able to do.
The closest I got was on a blind date a few months after I woke up, a date with someone I would go on to sleep with and then never see again. I got to the bar early because I was nervous as hell and had three cocktails before she arrived, upon which I proceeded to have two more before splitting a bottle of wine. I just had this sense that it was going to come out of me, so when she asked about the scar on my head, I grabbed her hand and blurted out, “Robin Williams saved my life!”
I thought she would wait for me to explain, but what I didn’t know then and what she would whisper to me later in the dark of the motel room was that she watched Good Will Hunting every night during her first friendless year at college so before I could say anything else, she smiled at me so, so sweetly, squeezed my hand and said, “Me too.”