How?

How could this have happened? I’m still reeling about it and will be for years to come, most likely. I know that full well. Nothing makes it easier, and I don’t expect anything to make it easier. Time might help, I’m sure. But there’s still this absolute hatred I have towards time because it takes me further away from the days I had Stephanie with me still. I don’t want to move on.

The doctor ran a test around 2am to confirm their suspicions, and she was officially pronounced as having passed at that time. For me, I think it actually probably happened Sunday night when her brain functions diminished and her breathing was no longer above the ventilator. That’s also when I stopped feeling to wait. But officially, it happened this early this morning.

I have these moments where I’m terrified that maybe I’m wrong about everything regarding God. I’ve never felt more forced to deal with what I really believe than now, when my wife’s eternity is just beginning. If what I believe is right, then I can have hope for her and desperation for that day that I will join her. For me, I’ve never really questioned things, and when I did, it was only for developing my own arguments for how sure I am in my faith. And, deep inside me, there’s no way I could ever question my faith to a point where I would turn from it. But it’s just critical now that what I believe is true, so I can’t help but find out where I stand. I hate it.

I just don’t know how this has happened. A year ago, she had never had a seizure that we knew about. Life was “normal” and we were just living our lives like any other couple. I know I’m not the only one with such circumstances and realizations. For some people, it’s a car crash or something even more sudden, and here I am saying how fast this happened. For any of us in this position, it just doesn’t seem possible. I can’t comprehend it.

190 thoughts on “How?”

  1. Brad,
    I have walked in your shoes. I was widowed with three young children in 2007. You will get through this. I know it seems insurmountable right now, but you must walk through the grief and know that He is with you every step of the way. Your faith is beautiful and I am so thankful that you have it. Hold those precious children tightly in your arms, and look into their eyes. You will see Stephanie. She is there. Prayers for your peace.

  2. Brad-

    I work with Nancy and I feel like I know you and Stephanie so well, even though we never met. Nancy always speaks very highly of you and I know Stephanie was blessed to have a great husband like you. I met Stephanie one time and I regret not knowing her better. I am so sorry about Stephanie. May God comfort you in this very tough time. Praying for you, your kids and family.

    Ps- Thank you for keeping my sister’s rabbits in your house. I am sorry if it caused any inconvenience to you or your family recently, but it is greatly appreciated.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss! I will continue to pray for you and the children! In the short time I knew Stephanie since our sons were born a day apart from each other she was truely a special person! Please continue to let us know how you are doing, I think of you and the kids often! Stephanie will not be forgotten!

    I pray for comfort for you!

    Julie

  4. So sorry for your loss. . .Stephanie’s story has made me appreciate the smaller things in my everyday life that I know I often take for granted. You and your children will be in my prayers.

  5. Brad I am sooo sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you, the little ones,and both your family and Stephanie’s family. All of you will continue to be in our prayers.

  6. A friend of mine posted the link to your story a couple days ago on facebook and thats when i started following you. There are no words i can say to make this any easier. Life is just a mystery and i guess we are not supposed to understand. I am so sorry for all of you and what you have been through. Your wife was a very lucky lady and I know she knows how much you love her. Those precious babies are gonna need you more than ever and my heart breaks for all of you. I will continue praying for all of you and for God to bring you comfort. I know thats not comforting to you at this time, nothing will be. Please just know that thousands of people are praying for all of you. Your a strong man, father, friend, son and a hero to those babies. God bless you… Rest in peace Stephanie

  7. Brad, I am so sorry for your loss. I didn’t know Stephanie but have been praying for you and her and your children. I know Kelly through our kids at school and she is an amazing person! My heart goes out to you and your two little ones. I will continue to think about and pray for you!!

  8. We are so sorry for your loss. Stephanie was truly an amazing person. Our deepest sympathies go out to you and your family.

    -Love Always,

  9. We are so sorry for your loss. Stephanie was truly an amazing person. Our deepest sympathies go out to you and your family.

    -Love Always,
    The Volpes

  10. You have really opened my eyes Brad. So many times we take things for granted. Many blessing to your and your family in this rough time, I do know she is smiling down and walking the streets if gold, you will be in her arms again one day. Squeeze those kids and your in my prayers.

  11. Brad,

    I am so sorry about your loss. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. I found comfort in this song by Steven Curtis Chapman when my sister passed away a year and a half ago.

    ‘With Hope’

    This is not at all how
    We thought it was supposed to be
    We had so many plans for you
    We had so many dreams
    And now you’ve gone away
    And left us with the memories of your smile
    And nothing we can say
    And nothing we can do
    Can take away the pain
    The pain of losing you, but …

    We can cry with hope
    We can say goodbye with hope
    ‘Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
    And we can grieve with hope
    ‘Cause we believe with hope
    (There’s a place by God’s grace)
    There’s a place where we’ll see your face again
    We’ll see your face again

    And never have I known
    Anything so hard to understand
    And never have I questioned moreThe wisdom of God’s plan
    But through the cloud of tears
    I see the Father’s smile and say well done
    And I imagine you
    Where you wanted most to be
    Seeing all your dreams come true
    ‘Cause now you’re home
    And now you’re free, and …

    We have this hope as an anchor
    ‘Cause we believe that everything
    God promised us is true, so …

    So we can cry with hope
    And say goodbye with hope

    We wait with hope
    And we ache with hope
    We hold on with hope
    We let go with hope 

  12. Im so very very sorry Brad. Im a friend of Todd and Kelly’s and I had the pleasure of meeting your beautiful wife one time. Kelly always spoke very well of her. My husband and I lost our newborn son a few months ago and while the situation is not the same and our pain is different I have thought and felt many of the same things you have shared and my heart just breaks for you and your family right now. I never ever thought I could survive that kind of loss yet God has given me strength each day to go on and continue to have a joy that is unexplainable. I know He will do this for you even when you think the grief is too much. I will be praying for you and your family day and night..praying that He will give you the strength to go on for your sweet children and that somehow God will use your loss for His glory. Again Im. so very sorry. Words dont truly describe how much my heart aches for your family.

  13. Brad, this is so heart-breaking and difficult to understand. We cling to what we know is the Truth – and that’s God’s love for us and the hope that we have in Eternity with Him. We will continue to pray for God’s strength to surround you, Brady, Halle and all of your families as a blanket of love that is never ending. We will continue to journey with you through all of the thoughts and emotions you’re experiencing and will continue to experience with each day. The light that is Stephanie will continue to shine through you and your kids because it is the light of love that we received through Jesus Christ. I can still see her standing in front of me, her beautiful smile and her radiant personality.

  14. Brad, We have been following the blog and praying for your family. Not an hour has gone by that I have not prayed for you guys. Your grief is shared by so many. Though this will bring you no comfort now, I feel as if Stephanie’s legacy for our family is the amazing love that you guys shared. I feel challenged by your loving words. Challenged to let the little things go by, and step back to adore the incredible blessings he places right in front of us. Your words are words I would want my husband to be able to say about me if we were in your circumstance. I am sure I am not alone in the profound affect you have produced by your transparency. Thank you for sharing the intimate relationship you had together with complete strangers. Our hearts are heavy with grief for you. We will continue to lift you and the children up to our loving, comforting, faithful God.

  15. Brad,
    You are and will continue to be in my prayers. I am so sorry for loss, but in reading and following your blog the last week or so, I know that you will rely on God’s strength. There are so many people that are know praying for you and the whole family. That is a true blessing from the beautiful wife of yours. She was so loved that everyone needed to get more people to pray so one person turned into over 2,000 or so. You don’t need to comprehend anything right now, just grieve. Remember in the Bible… “Jesus wept”. God Bless you and those two beautiful children. You will one day find a peace, I know I have found that peace with losing my sister 2 years ago suddenly in a car accident.

  16. I’m at a loss for words. We are grieving along side of you. This isn’t the end of your story. Somehow, Jesus will turn ashes to beauty. Will continue to pray without ceasing, Pam DiBiasio

  17. Brad,

    My deepest sympathy and condolence for your loss. If there’s anything I can do for you during this difficult time, please don’t hesitate to ask.

    John

  18. Brad, I’m sorry for your loss. You and your family have been in my thoughts quite often and will continue to be.

    Carrie

  19. Your family has been our hearts and minds. I know that this is devastating as i have been here before several times with my family members and i can tell you time helps but doesnt erase.
    Your wife will always be with you even if not in her physical form.
    Even in this difficult time where its hard to trust God’s plan or even, that he has a plan is when you need to know that he knows whats best for us and that, not to forget in as much as your wife was your help meet. God is your supplier and your ultimate help his grace is suffecient.
    Rest in him that he can fufill the void that is now resting on you. It is easy to have faith in God when things are ok but, it is a measure of your faith in God to trust him when things are absolutely not okay.
    The greater the trial the greater your purpose is. Be strong and of good cheer for he who has begun a work in you is faithful to finish it.
    In your brokeness trust God to mold your path and to finish what he started in you. We love you bro

  20. Brad,
    I’ve been praying for you since the Schmidts passed on your requests last Monday. I have been heartbroken for you and your children and my family has been fervently praying for Stephanie’s healing. Even though I go to CVC and am on the vocal team and was in MOMtourage, I have somehow missed meeting both of you. But, like others have said, I feel like I know you through reading your blog. All week long I’ve been stumbling upon a cd that has a single song on it — Legacy by Nichole Nordeman. Today, I couldn’t stop listening to it over and over. I only know Stephanie through your words, but it seems that she has left the kind of legacy that is described in this song. It’s one that will live on through you and Brady and Halle and has earned her a “well done”. Thank you again for sharing your heart and your struggles with us. Your authenticity is something I rarely see. I’m praying continually for God to wrap his arms around you and speak to you through His word. I’ve struggled through times of doubt since a death in our family a few years ago. The thing that continually convinces me of our great God is that He meets me in His Word over and over again. He never ceases to amaze me at how He speaks directly to me through verses that seem to literally jump off the page to me. Not just words of comfort, but of direction when I’ve been confused with how to raise my children. I’m praying that each day from here to eternity will be marked by my intentionality in leaving a legacy for Christ, just like Stephanie did.

  21. Dear Brad,

    That are just absolutely no words to describe how deeply saddened and sorry we are for your loss and the heart wrenching pain you are enduring. We will never forget Stephanie and feel very blessed to have known and worked with her as she was such a sweet and precious soul.

    Mark and I will continue pray for you, your babies and your family. May God give you His Peace, Comfort and Strength.

    Through many tears,
    Nicole

  22. I am so very sorry for your loss. Stephanie and I shared our pregnancies on a message board. She was a lovely person, always kind and supportive, whose deep love for her husband and family were always evident. I’ve followed your blog through this horrible, terrible time and thought often of what a lovely, genuine, caring woman Stephanie was. My heart goes out to all of her loved ones, her husband and her children.

  23. Brad~
    I have no words to offer that would ease your pain. I can’t begin to relate to the agony you are feeling. All I can offer is my continued prayers. Your words have taught us so much over this last week. I am holding my loved ones a little tighter today.

  24. My heart is also breaking for you, Brad. God gave me this verse after my sister died in Feb. Psalm 61:1 &2
    “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
    Continuing to lift you and yours up in prayer.
    With tears and because of Christ,
    Pam

  25. Brad,
    I am truly sorry for your loss. I don’t think that I have enough space to express it as lovely as you have these past few weeks. I have prayed daily, hourly, moment to moment for a miracle for Stephanie. Now she is at peace with the world and I hope you will find peace knowing that she is with her Lord watching over you and the kids.
    I graduated from BBHHS with your brother Todd, and knew Scott as well from band (both of us were drummers) I have followed your blog for the last week or so and have been amazed at your strength, your raw emotion and your unwavering faith in God. It has truly touched my heart. I hope that you continue to find comfort in your faith, your family and friends.

  26. here if you need anything. still praying like mad, that god will bless you immensely. do NOT force strength, greif is necessary for healing.
    Rach

  27. We are at a loss for words. Please know that your writings throughout this very difficult time have touched our lives so deeply and some of our coworkers lives as well! We praise God knowing that this isn’t the end of the story! We will continue to lift your beautiful family up in prayer in the weeks and months ahead.

  28. Brad
    Call me anytime. You have my number. How do you move on? You grieve. You live. You hope. You endure. You trust. You believe. You do it because you have to not because you want to. I lost our first baby full term to a birth defect. Then my wife had Hodgkins 3 monhts after my 2nd was born. Then breast cancer a month after my third and 8 years later she was dead. Some might say I’ve been there, but I haven’t. I haven’t felt the shock you have. I had more time. My kids were older. My relationship was as unique as yours was to you and no two are alike.

    But I have my own experience to speak from. What I grieved as much in myself as the loss of my wife was innocence. Child-like belief that life was fair. You don’t just have the grief of Stephanie. That’s huge. But you have shock — and post traumatic stress — and single-parenthood — and Spiritual grief over what should be.

    I grieved that I grew a bit harder and tougher. I’m still a soft-hearted, tender person compared to many guys, but less than what I was and I grieved the loss of who I was and who I could have been. I still do.

    Of course you aren’t ready to move on. How could you be? But DO hold fast to the hope — if you can’t, let us do it for you — that there is a God and a heaven and Stephanie is there, and a day will come when we will all be together again with no more tears and no more loss and no more struggle. That IS real — even when you aren’t feeling it at the moment.

    I had a doubt when I looked at the moment of death, the eyes popped open, but there was blankness instead of transcendence. It rattled me tremendously. I expected to see glore reflected. It bothered me so much I talked to our long-time doctor — a man with practical wisdom as well as good medecine. He explained to me that in death, the body is like a factory shutting down. Some machines spin down slowly, some lights go off faster. My wife’s spirit probably left some time before that moment when breathing slowed and stopped and eyes popped open. I needed to hear that — to reconcile my eyes with my faith. There are probably things you need to hear and they will probably come from unexpected places. Be open to whatever peace you can hold onto in the midst of this. That’s little enough as advice goes, but it’s the best I have. There is no right way to process everything that has happened to you. Find routine. Be good to yourself. Get sleep — get help getting sleep if you need to. Accept all the help you possibly can — food, child care, time off, humor, a night out, friends, family — but also be willing to insist on what you know you need. Take the kids back from the well-meaning caregivers if you need them right then. Decline the company if you need some time alone. Seek balance. Avoid serious decisions if you can. Clean things out when YOU want to not when others tell you to. Put off any financial issues until later if you can.

    So much of that is so trite — so trivial compared to the only things that matter — and yet, to be able to put life on autopilot to be able to deal with the internal is a necessity. It will help.

    Love and Prayers,
    Cousin Brian

  29. Brad,

    My heart is aching for your loss of Stephanie. I know neither of you personally, but live in the Cleveland area and learned of your story from a Facebook friend. Everyone lost in this situation – people lost a daughter, a niece, a mother, a wife … but through you and sharing your experience, so many other people have gained. Your proclamation of your strong faith in God has touched so many people and is a testament to what a faithful and caring God He is. I have no words of wisdom for dealing with a loss such as this, other than to stay close to Him. Don’t waver. You’ve touched so many so far and while you and your children certainly have a rocky road ahead for a while, you have one another and the holiest one of all, right by your side. May God allow Stephanie to rest in peace and for your hearts to mend with time.

  30. Dear Brad, I have watched as my sister-in-law went through this. My brother-in-law was only 31 and died very suddenly and totally unexpectedly (from and asthma attack). She was left with a 6 week old baby and a 2 year old. There is now explaination for why or how this happens. The first year was the hardest for her, but in time she was able to move on. You never get over it, but you do move on. Your children need you now more then ever! Take comfort in their love for you. From reading your blog, I can see you are loved by so many. So many people want to be there for you and help you, please let them! When you are stronger look into the Corner Stone of Hope in Independence. They are wonderful there and have so much to offer! God Bless you and your family!

  31. Dear Brad,

    I know Bill Hnat and was his mgr here in Atlanta. I have read your blog and felt the reality and raw emotion jump into my heart for your whole family. My heart hurts for you too. From knowing Bill and reading your blog I know Stephanie was a wonderful beautiful person and no matter the time there will always be a part of your heart that belongs to her. Hold fast to your memories and most important your faith. Because it is that faith that will sustain you to be strong and provide the strength you need for yourself and those two precious babies. My prayers will be stacking at Gods feet for your family.

  32. Brad, I am so sorry. There is rejoicing in heaven today. And both sadness and rejoicing down here. You and the kids will remain in my prayers. And I know, that ALL things work to the good for those who LOVE God and are called according to His purpose…that’s YOU. Hang in there! And hug those little ones!
    Love in Christ,
    from Idaho,
    Amy (for the Waters/Sopoti clan)

  33. I am so sorry for your loss. I learned about Stephanie from a friend who works with her aunt, at a school near Wooster, and have been following for the past week and a half. I find myself getting up every morning and hurrying to the computer to see if there is any news about Stephanie, but also to read the letters you have written about her, your family, your marriage, and your incredible faith. Whether you know it or not, you have touched so many lives, and I thank you, because I am one who has been touched by your unwavering devotion to your wife, and your faith in God. God Bless you, your children and your families. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  34. Brad – although I do not know you that well, your courage, wisdom and strength just amazes me. You are such a strong man to be able to write and express what you do. Your words have touched a place in my heart. You and your family have been in my thoughts several times this week. I cannot fathom what this is like for you and your family. You have my deepest sympathy and may God bless your entire family and continue to provide you the strength and courage to overcome this.

  35. I found your blog through another blog I follow on facebook. I live in Phoenix, AZ and I just wanted you to know although I don’t know you and your family personally, I have been praying for you and I too am grieving with you. Your faith in God and love for your wife is a real encouragement to me and you have inspired me to look at my life in a different way and truly appreciate the time I spend with my loved ones. You and your children will continue to be in my prayers.

  36. Brad,

    My heart goes out to you. I have been following your blog for the past week and each day i go to prayer for you and your family. I pray God’s peace for you now as you grieve the loss of Stephanie. I know you have no idea where to go from here and I pray that our Father carries you and holds you now. I wanted to share this scripture that came to mind today.
    “The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high;
    He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and He will be the stability of your times,
    abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
    the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.”
    Isaiah 33:5-6

    May He be your stability now, Brad. Will continue to pray for you and the family.

    Kimi Elam (focus 03)

  37. My heart aches for you and your children. Your words are profound and beautiful. Your love for Stephanie is evident and magnificent ! May God bring you peace and comfort during this difficult time. I will continue to pray for all those involved. Thank you for sharing your journey,your faith and your life with all of us.

  38. My heart aches for you and your family. Cling to your faith and the hope that it carries. There are darker days ahead, but there is light through Him. You will rejoice with Stephanie again one day!

  39. May God bless and keep you and your family in this time. May Christ walk with you and carry you every step of the way. May you be able to think of Stephanie with joy and peace in her current oneness with the Lord.

    Also know that there are people. People to help you and shore you up. People that remember and care. People for you.

    Somehow the words don’t seem like enough……

    Debra

  40. Brad, thank you for loving Stephanie as Christ loved the Church. What a Christ like example you have been through your blog. I can’t help but think that this is what Stephanie was created for. This past week plus 3 days has touched, changed, and drawn people to Jesus. Sadly at the expense of your relationship with her. I have and will continue to pray for healing for you and your family. I can’t help but feel that this is not the end. God has so much more for you and all of us. Continue to live out your faith in Christ and “Know that He is God.” Psm 46:10

  41. I’m so very sorry Brad. May God bring you peace and comfort during this most difficult time. My thoughts prayers continue to be with you and your family.

  42. Brad,

    Jenn and I grieve with you and your family at Stephanie’s passing. We are so thankful for the assurance that she is safely home with Jesus. We are praying for you all.

  43. Better Than A Hallelujah by Amy Grant

    God loves a lullaby
    In a mothers tears in the dead of night
    Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
    God loves the drunkards cry,
    The soldiers plea not to let him die
    Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

    We pour out our miseries
    God just hears a melody
    Beautiful the mess we are
    The honest cries of breaking hearts
    Are better than a Hallelujah.

    The woman holding on for life,
    The dying man giving up the fight
    Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
    The tears of shame for what’s been done,
    The silence when the words won’t come
    Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

    Better than a church bell ringing,
    Better than a choir singing out, singing out.

  44. Brad,
    my family and I have never stopped thinking about you, we are so sorry this happened to you. I just wanted to thank you again for helping me with the rabbits, and if there is anything you ever need, let us know.

  45. Brad, I am so sorry.This is a tough time and nothing we say can make it any easier I know this because I recently went through this. It’s Heaven’s gain but our loss. Heaven it a lot sweeter. I’ve been told this, but I didn’t care I wanted him back. God will help you through but you need to have your time to hurt. Don’t ignore it you have to go through it. Thank you for your unselfishness and writing this blog. I’m always checking for updates. You wrote that Stephanie was going through something such as a battle, well, maybe God took her before this battle got so tough that she couldn’t handle it. We just don’t know. You will have all kinds of “what if’s” and Why’s and that is OK. We will continue to keep you and your family in our Prayers.
    Love In Christ,
    Ballard and Lynnette

  46. Brad and Family,
    I didn’t have the great opportunity to know Stephanie, until your blog….she was an angel before her time, God must have needed her to come back to where she belonged!! So sorry for your loss and wishing I could find the most magical words to end your devastation, but as you explained in your blog, time will heal all.
    You must feel very privledged to have been the person God chose for Stephanie to have children and an eternal life with! God Bless and Comfort your aching hearts, many prayers coming to your family from ours!!

    Gary and Lisa white

  47. Dear Brad,
    Stand fast! You will go through many stages in your grief. Anger, resentment, pleading, the desire to give up, to let go, to fight…so many different emotions. The best advice I can give you right now is to hang on to those you love and who love you. Don’t close down or turn away from them. they will not always understand and they will not always say the right thing at the right time. In fact, you will be guaranteed that they will often say the wrong thing at the wrong time but, they love you and you need them. Hang on to God and to your family. Never stop talking to your Creator and don’t stop talking to Stephanie. She is there, with God and very much alive, even though she isn’t with you. And last, but not least, don’t be hard on yourself for feeling the way you do at any given time. Don’t feel guilty for feeling happiness, sadness, joy, sorrow, peace. Just rest in the arms of the One who made you and controls all our lives. You don’t feel it now but, things will get better. Give yourself time.

    Written with love and great heartfelt sorrow for you from a woman who knows what it’s like to lose a spouse.
    Winnie Meerse

  48. Be strong in the Lord he cannot give us burdens we cannot bear,she’s in a better place.The devil is testing your faith but resist him.I’m sorry for your lost.sometimes we cannot understand why things happen but God’s will is beyond our understanding.

  49. Dear Brad,
    I just wanted to say I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. Thankful though to hear that like I have seen a few people say Stephanie has been totally healed. Maybe not the way we thought and prayed for but she has. She is with her heavenly Father…what a better place to be.
    Just wanted you to know that our prayers for you and your family will not stop here as it will only get harder once all the craziness of hospital stuff and funeral plans are done and over with and it’s quiet and just you and your precious babies. You will be attacked with many thoughts and questions and why’s and what if’s. But just keep your focus on Jesus and keep reminding yourself that God is good and that He knows what He’s doing. Also that you WILL get to see your wife again!! That is what got me through the hard times after losing my firstborn son 5 days after he was born.
    Hold on to those precious babies! They are gonna need alot of love and comfort. I pray that you will still be able to feel the prayers of all that’s praying for you for a long time after all this. Time will help but ultimately it is our hope, and trust in God I think that gets us through these extremely hard times.
    Sincerely,
    Alea

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