{Turning Tragedy into Thanksgiving} Mary-Elizabeth’s story.

Written by: Mary-Elizabeth Schauer

As I gave prayerful thought of writing something for Mandy’s blog, I jumped at the opportunity.

Our lives were fulfilled with two beautiful sons, a beautiful home, nice vehicles, great jobs and “my” love for my Heavenly Father. My husband was what you would call Agnostic in his faith. He always told me that he was sitting on a fence waiting to fall off, if he got pushed in the right direction, that’s the way he would go. I knew in my heart that he believed, but his Faith Journey was far from mine. I continued to pray that God would bless him, that He would help my sweet Prince to see why we were so fulfilled, why we were so blessed with “material” things or so I thought.

Two years ago, (actually it will be two years this October 18th) our lives changed forever. My husband of 26 years, had a massive hemorrhagic stroke. Richard is a Chartered Accountant/Certified Public Accountant. He was very successful, very honest and never did anything against the rules. He was well respected in his field among his peers. Honest, trustworthy, reliable and so sincere. He is the love of my life, the gleam in my eye and the smile on my face. I love him more than anyone could know. I would move Heaven and Earth for him if I had too.

We had plans of going to Europe someday, travelling together when our sons were grown and on their own. We had our future planned out, this, was not part of our plan.

I went to work for 7:00 in the morning as I always did. Richard was still sleeping as he always is when I leave for work. He remembers very little of the “event” as he calls it.

Around 10:10 in the morning, I received a call at work from our eldest son, Alex. He was very quiet on the phone, but I immediately sensed the panic in his voice. He said, “Mom, you need to come home, you need to come home now!” I said Alex, I’m alone at work. Two of the girls I work with were both sick. I told him I can’t come home. I couldn’t leave the office. Then the axe fell, “Mom, Dad had a stroke.” I literally was on the floor with the news. I couldn’t and didn’t want to believe what my son had just told me. The ambulance had already taken him to the hospital, so I literally flew home to grab the boys and head to Windsor.

I was pumping Alex for answers on our way to the city and from what we could gather, we believe Richard to have been unconscious for about 2 hours before someone found him. As we were driving to the hospital, Alex said that he thought he heard noises, so he went to the garage and saw his Dad’s car still there. When Alex was calling for his father, he kept hearing something but not sure yet. Due to the severity of Richard’s stroke, he was unable to answer. Finally as Alex made his way up the stairs to find out where his dad was, he found him laying on the bathroom floor semi conscious. He immediately called 911, then called me.

Once we arrived at the hospital, I was shaking so badly, desperate to see him. We went through triage and they immediately brought me to his side. Once I saw him, I broke down like a little child, sobbing at what was unfolding before my eyes. The Dr. took my me aside and said, “I want you to prepare for the worse!” His blood pressure was so high it was off the charts. They said it was 220/114. His blood sugar was just shy of 20. The Dr. told me that he also had a brain bleed and the next 48 hours were going to be very guarded.

As I was trying to understand why this happened, why him, and not me, I started to yell at God. I was so angry and filled with hatred at the situation, but I knew I had to be strong for our sons. Even though I was told I might lose the love of my life…I had to be strong. Our sons depended on me. Yes, they were adults, but they were just as vulnerable and terrified as I was.

He was admitted to ICU and visitors were limited to family only. As word got out about this devastating news, I cried. I cried hard and often. I received countless emails if people telling us they were praying for Richard, for the boys and I. I grew desperately anxious and cursed God for letting this happen. I drove home that night and God spoke to me. In my desperation, fighting the tears streaming down my face, I cried out to God, asking Him how He could let this happen, how could He abandon us, why?

When I settled down and when I was in the right frame of mind, God said to me, “I suffered too!” I was immediately done my rant, I stopped crying and I started to listen to His voice. He heard me, He knew I was struggling and it was in that moment, that I realized, God was here. He had struggled too when His own Son was so brutally treated. He was well aware of my suffering. It was evident to me that God was with Richard and He was in control.

Two days later at around 8:00 pm, my greatest fear was coming to fruition. I was going to lose the love of my life, or so I thought. The Neurosurgeon had been warning me all day to not stray from the hospital, that he wasn’t ruling out surgery yet. He also told me to keep my family close. I didn’t realize the magnitude of these words until 8:20 in the evening, Saturday evening, when they intubated him, and said, “we have to do surgery and we have to do it now, or we will lose him within the next four hours,”

Richard was steadily declining all day. The bleed was getting deeper and his brain was starting to swell. I didn’t have time to breathe. He is my whole world. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was literally in a state of shock.

We go about our lives, living pure and honest lives, trying to be more like God, trusting a God that won’t forsake us in our time of need and yet here I was falling apart at the seams with not a glimpse of hope in sight. I was so sure, I was going to lose Richard.

I immediately called our families together and our Pastor’s to come and pray with us. We needed God more then ever now. We drew together in the OR waiting room, with clasped hands, in a circle and petitioned the Lord to spare Richards life. As distraught as I was, I sensed that God was going to be with the surgeons and He was going to comfort our sons and me, no matter what the outcome.

The surgery went well and for the next three months, every single day, I travelled back and forth to the Hospital to be there with Richard. I helped the nurses with Richards care. It’s where I needed to be.

Moving ahead now, two years almost to the day, we have been blessed with many wonderful caregivers, Dr’s. Therapists, Aids, that are Christians. Richard’s faith is growing. God is working wonders in my sweet Prince’s life. I would go through this all over again, if I knew that Richard would find his faith. Sometimes, we need to be brought to our knees for God to use us. We are the vessels that God uses to reach each other to do our Lord’s bidding.

I told Richard that God spared his life for a reason. Other’s, have said the same. It’s not his time yet. God has a bigger purpose for his life. Material things are so irrelevant now. We have been blessed beyond recognition by the power of the Father’s healing hand. In all the times I felt alone and scared, God was always there.

We are still on our journey, but the one Scripture I keep holding on to is, Joshua 1:5 “I will never leave you or forsake you.” In all of this God was there, holding unto us when we all suffered so much. We have never been alone. Richard is doing better. He’s not the same, but when God works a miracle in your life, be prepared for anything.


Mary has been married for 28 years to the love of her life, Richard and a Mom to Alex and Paul. Mary enjoys, sewing, knitting, baking and card making. She enjoys playing the flute and piano, sharing this gift God gave her. She has recently retired from Olivito Dentistry as a Certified Dental Receptionist with 30 years in the field.


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