Robin Williams’ Widow, Susan Schneider Williams, Remembers Final Days in Essay
It's been more than two years since beloved Hollywood actor Robin Williams committed suicide while battling depression, Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body Disease, but his widow Susan Schneider Williams is still trying to make sense of the loss.
In a special editorial published to Neurology.com, Schneider Williams, who married Williams in 2011, recalled the horrifying events across the year leading up to her late husband's death. She noted his slow mental decline that began in October 2013: where he once memorized entire plays for Broadway productions, he'd begun to struggle to remember simple lines for Night at the Museum 3. And many doctors visits, prescriptions and therapy sessions did little to mitigate his pain. It wasn't until after his death that doctors and Schneider Williams understood how powerfully LBD contributed to his unraveling.
"Not only did I lose my husband to LBD, I lost my best friend," Schneider Williams wrote. "Robin and I had in each other a safe harbor of unconditional love that we had both always longed for. For seven years together, we got to tell each other our greatest hopes and fears without any judgment, just safety. As we said often to one another, we were each other's anchor and mojo: that magical elixir of feeling grounded and inspired at the same time by each other's presence."
Schneider Williams said that among the worst part of her husband's condition was that he was completely aware of his decline but could do nothing about it. Often, he would plead with doctors that he just wished he could somehow restart his brain and begin anew, free of the panic attacks, the insomnia and the inability to remember the simplest things. She wanted to help desperately, but there was nothing she could do.
"For the first time, my own reasoning had no effect in helping my husband find the light through the tunnels of his fear," she wrote. "I felt his disbelief in the truths I was saying. My heart and my hope were shattered temporarily. We had reached a place we had never been before. My husband was trapped in the twisted architecture of his neurons and no matter what I did I could not pull him out."
Still, Schneider Williams added that she won't allow Williams' death to have been in vain, and appealed to doctors to continue fighting to nail down more cures and treatments for LBD.
"If only Robin could have met you. He would have loved you — not just because he was a genius and enjoyed science and discovery, but because he would have found a lot of material within your work to use in entertaining his audiences, including the troops," she wrote. "In fact, the most repeat character role he played throughout his career was a doctor, albeit different forms of practice."
Read the full essay at Neurology, and share your thoughts in the comments.
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