In Hollywood and beyond, Robin Williams was well-known and adored. He was, however, engaged in quiet struggles with his mental and physical health, which had a negative impact on his marriage to his wife.
In 2007, Susan Schneider, Williams’ wife, and he happened to meet by coincidence in an Apple store. When Schneider mentioned seeing a man in the store, she quickly identified him as Williams.
He was wearing a camouflage print, and she said he was silently moving about the store. She glanced at him once more as she left the shop and saw that he was grinning at her.
Schneider made the decision to talk to Williams after that. She approached him and inquired about how well his identity was being concealed by his camouflage clothing. He mentioned that it wasn’t working in his reply and said:
“You located me,”
Williams was 56 at the time, and he was relieved to be in a committed relationship at such an advanced age following two prior unsuccessful marriages. He was head over heels in love with Schneider.
Williams was a history enthusiast who could educate Schneider on a variety of topics, and Schneider said they enjoyed visiting museums together because he was knowledgeable about art and she was. She also verified that he had a different character at home and on stage.
The comedian’s wife stated that Williams was quiet, reflective, and cerebral in their personal space, which she adored, but said that she would never have married a man like him while he was on stage.
Even the priest who officiated their wedding remarked on how lovely the couple was because their love for one another was so obvious. He characterized their wedding day as “very peaceful” and wonderful.
He continued by expressing his enjoyment at Schneider and Williams’ active participation in their ceremony. He said that he had advised the couple to write their own vows, and that they had done so.
Only the couple’s close family, friends, and neighbors attended the wedding. Rev. Dalton, who presided over the ceremony, added the following:
They were really kind to invite my wife and me to remain for the wedding meal as well. Usually, we just depart after the ceremony has ended, about 20 minutes.
After two years of blissful marriage, Williams’ health started to strangely change. Sadly, this happened in the third year. Williams started to discover that he had trouble recalling scripts.
Additionally, he groused about having stomach pain and shaking at night while he tried to go asleep. The overwhelming worry Schneider’s spouse was feeling, though, was what she noticed the most.
Williams’ anxiety was out of character, according to Scheider, who expressed concern for her. She was unable to fully comprehend what was happening with her life’s love. Williams eventually received a Lewy body dementia diagnosis (LBD).
As Scheider and Williams discovered, the symptoms of LBD can vary often and are challenging for both the patient and the caregiver to manage. But the pair made an effort to enjoy their time together by doing the little things they did every day, including holding hands and celebrating with friends.
Williams’ self-confidence suffered as a result of his difficulty to recollect his lines, and Schneider remembered:
“I stood in the gloom of not knowing what was happening to my spouse, powerless and immobilized. Was there a single source, a single terrorist, or was he being infected by a number of different diseases at once?
Schneider mentioned that he had said multiple times that he wanted to reboot his brain and could not be excited about any negative test results doctors gave him because they both knew that deep down, something was wrong.
However, she was constantly by her husband’s side. The foundation of their friendship and love served as their armor, she said, and they battled his illness together even in the most trying circumstances.
Williams was initially given a Parkinson’s diagnosis, but he realized that couldn’t be the case because he thought he was going insane. It made sense to him that he only later received the LBD diagnosis.
Williams struggled to grasp what was wrong with him and questioned doctors about whether he had dementia or Alzheimer’s before receiving the LBD diagnosis. Schneider stood with him during these difficult times.
Williams tried everything to maintain his health, including physical therapy, yoga, meditation, and biking, but he was unable to do so for very long. He even attempted self-hypnosis without success.
He walked with a shuffle and often found himself frozen, feeling irritated when he could eventually move again. Williams also had a minor tremor that came and went in his left hand.
In addition, despite having almost all of the more than 40 symptoms associated with LBD during his battle, he never encountered hallucinations. She also acknowledged: “I felt like I was drowning with him as he was drowning in his symptoms.”
Schneider made it her job to stick by Williams and make their remaining days together as special as they could, while also concentrating on Williams’ medical journey, while feeling like she was drowning.
Williams’ doctor advised him and Schneider to think about using different beds while he was unwell. Schneider responded that they were not divorcing when Williams questioned whether that implied they were.
Schneider and Williams kept their love and fidelity intact despite sleeping in different rooms as directed by the doctor. But for the pair, everything changed on a horrible night.
Schneider and Williams were preparing to retire to bed on a typical evening. Williams gave his wife a foot massage, and she noted that he appeared irritated but didn’t express it when she declined.
“Goodnight, my love,” he whispered before getting ready for bed. He did, however, go back to the space more than once, once to close his closet and once to get his iPad. Schneider was pleased to see that he was paying attention to his iPad. She speculated that it might portend good things to come.
Schneider came to the realization that her last evening with her spouse would be the next day. The following morning, while Williams was still in bed, she left their house, asking his aide to inform him to phone Schneider when he woke up.
Williams’ assistant, Rebecca, called Schneider around 11:30 to inform her that Williams was still asleep. As soon as he sensed something was awry, Schneider instructed Rebecca to go check on him.
Schneider admitted that she could not see Williams past the emergency personnel who were attempting to save him after he took his own life when she came home. She ultimately made it to his side and joined him in prayer. She also expressed her forgiveness to him.
The celebrity’s spouse later acknowledged that she believed he didn’t want to visit the facility for neuropsychological testing, which he was supposed to do a week after he committed suicide. She agreed with him, saying:
“I believe he was reluctant to leave. He probably believed he would be imprisoned and never be released.
She expressed gratitude that some of his last remarks to her were kind ones, according to Schneider. She even said that her relationship with Williams was “everything [she] had dreamed of love to be.”
Williams’ widow acknowledged that since her husband took his own life, time had changed for her. She added that she continues to hunt for meaning and that his final words to her still ring in her ears.
Schneider stated that she didn’t hold Williams responsible for taking his life because he would only have three years left, and those years would not be good ones.
Schneider uses teaching at the William’s School in Norfolk, Virginia, as a vehicle for her search for purpose in life. While Schneider’s spouse passed away eight years ago, she is still pursuing this option.