Today, I wish to honor a woman, a wife, a mom, a d-mom and big sister to so many in the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) – Meri Schuhmacher
I want those who are not part of the DOC to know who she is and for many to know who you prayed for these past six months and urge you to continue to pray after learning more about her.
I have never met Meri. Not face to face. I have heard her voice through a few short videos and even heard her sing a diabetes version of Imagine. I am not on her top 5 list of friends, shoot, I don’t even make a “top” list in her book at all, I am sure. But that doesn’t matter . . . I still love her.
But like so many others, I know her diabetes story. She is a pillar in our community, the diabetes one. She is so often referred to as the “big sister” of the DOC because she’s been around the diabetes block a few times. She advocates, she educates, she blogs and she has always been that friend on my computer, as well as so many others, ready and willing to answer questions, offer support and do a diabetes jig with you celebrating victories, even the smallest ones.
I don’t remember when I first “met” Meri. I’m pretty sure it was through Tina Bell and/or Allison Littlefield sharing her blog. But I do remember in September of 2010 when Ryan had the stomach flu, she kept up with me, with Ryan, offering advice on how to deal with a puking Type 1 child who’s blood sugar was seeing new record lows (for Ryan) and the ketones were on the rise. I was one afraid momma. But Meri (along with so many others) was there, offering words of concern and encouragement and instructions on how to administer a mini-gluc.
I also remember in June of 2011, I became very discouraged about blogging, about diabetes, about who I was and how I fit in the DOC and basically, I needed a good kick in the pants. And guess who was there . . . yep. Meri was. And she took time, wrote to me privately, shared her heart and vulnerability; she gave me the “kick” I needed in a way that only Meri could and these four words still resonate with me, “Your story DOES matter.” And Meri is just one of those people that if she says it, you believe it.
Meri’s diabetes story is big. You can read it here in her words. But what you should know about Meri’s diabetes story is that she has four boys ranging from about 8-16 and three of them have Type 1 diabetes. She lives in California. She is MY AGE. She’s a blogger and boy howdy can she ever write. Her style is easy, creative, vulnerable with just the right touch of humor. I fell in love with her instantly through her blog. We are facebook “friends”. And I love and value her greatly.
The funny thing about the DOC is that I feel like I have about a hundred that I follow, who I feel like I really know, can tell you their dx story, their children’s dx story or that I go to with questions, concerns, complaints and such. When I talk to my husband, I can say, “Reyna’s Joe, Joanne’s Elise, Laura’s Nate, etc. And there are countless others like that. Countless. And then there are some that fall into the category of “I know them more than their diabetes story.” When first names like Katie, Tommy and Levi are enough because I know them, my boys know them or know who they are. I talk to these precious ones about more than just diabetes. Our non-d children are even friends with their non-d children and they facebook, text and instagram! We in the DOC all have them, don’t we? If there were a cure tomorrow, we would still be friends even if diabetes ceased to exist.
Meri, for me, would fall somewhere in the middle of the two categories. We both have all boys and ONLY boys. She totally gets the madness, chaos and noise of boys in the home. We both are deeply seeded in our faith. It’s not uncommon for us to swap spiritual encouragement one another. We both share the struggle between trying to be positive and upbeat and encouraging, but still struggle with the valleys of diabetes because they are real. But something that I have always loved and appreciated about Meri is her love and adoration for her husband, Ryan, and their loving marriage.
And her Ryan is why I write today.
Back in February, her husband of almost 19 years was diagnosed with cancer – again. You can read about it in her words here. This rocked the DOC. It is hard enough to care for a child with a high maintenance disease like Type 1 diabetes let alone three children. Pumping x 3. Carb counting x 3. Night checks x 3. Treating highs, flushing ketones, 504s, d supplies, endo appointments, etc x 3. And she does it with such grace, strength and vulnerability. And then she began to, again, fight a beast we have all been touched by in one way or another – Cancer.
We, the DOC, jumped to action any way we could. Praying. Sending packages. Praying. Writing cards. Praying. Making cds. Praying. Posting on her wall. Praying. Praying. Praying.
Meri kept us updated on Ryan’s health. They continued to fight. But that was not the amazingness of the story of the Schuhmacher family. It was their unwavering faith. Their “Faith Bigger Than Their Fear.” Their constant positive perspective. Their living life in the moment believing in the miracle, trusting God, staying grounded. Yes, there was fear. Yes, it was hard. Yes, there were days . . . really hard days. But if there was ever an example of how to live and fight through cancer, the Schuhmacher’s picture would be there next to the definition.
In the next six months, there were a number of posts about successes and setbacks. As we all know, it’s a total roller coaster ride. But somehow, their updates always resonated with hope. If I were to describe from the total outside, which I was/am, how they handled the last six months in five words . . . my words would be:
Hope. Strength. Faith. Vulnerability. Love.
I know there are many other amazing words to use but I just want to paint an accuarate picture for those who do not know them at all.
Then on August 28th, this is the update from Meri posted in the Schuhmacher Family’s Miracle page:
We received the news last week that our most recent brain scan shows a new army of tumors. Ryan no longer qualifies for radiation, or any trials. We will begin our last med option tomorrow morning. Urvoy is a medication given once every three weeks for 12 weeks. The medicine works on a small number of patients and takes a good 5 to 6 weeks to make any improvement. As things are progressing fast and furious, that is a very scary timeframe for us. Despite the odds, Ryan remains convinced that he will be ok. More than ever we need your prayers, as Ryan’s body is so very weak right now. Our family is setting aside this Sunday as a day of prayer and fasting on Ryan’s behalf. If you feel as though you would like to join us, we would sincerely appreciate each and every prayer offered. Thank you so much for all the good thoughts, love and prayers you have directed towards our family. It is now time to ramp up our prayers again. An army of believers has to be stronger than cancer. It just has to be. Much love ~Meri
This alone embodies Ryan’s resolve to hope and Meri’s ever present realness but belief in faith, in prayer, in Ryan. And we vowed to pray.
I woke up Sunday morning, September 2nd praying for Ryan, before I even got out of bed. I’m sure hundreds did. We all love the Schuhmacher family. Every time God placed them in my mind, on my heart that morning, I prayed. There were reminders all over facebook and in the DOC to pray for Ryan. And we did.
As God would have it, that very morning that Ryan’s Army (as Meri would call it) was fervently praying for Ryan’s healing and Meri and the boys, Ryan, peacefully and in his family’s arms, passed from this life to the next.
And in Meri’s brief post sharing Ryan’s home-going, she wrote this, “Our miracle was that he did not suffer.”
I wish I had known Ryan personally. I wish I had more to share with you first hand about the amazing man, husband and father I have read so much about. But this is what I know —
His family was German. They owned a bakery. Ryan worked at this bakery for quite some time. Meri worked there too and that’s how they met. They fell in love and soon married and began having children – boys. In recent years, he shut down the bakery and sold bakery supplies to other bakers. He embodied the term “a family man.” I learned on Wendy‘s wall that Ryan tucked Meri in bed every night. I read on Meri’s wall that he made her breakfast on Saturday mornings, rather large ones at that. 😉 Every word I have ever read in a plethera of places about this man was that he was a good man, a loving husband, an engaged father. He actively participated in diabetes care. He maintained hope through his fight. He believed in miracles.
And he received his miracle on the very day we all were praying. But although we know Ryan is healed and whole in a wonderful place, Meri and the boys here are sorrowful, are hurting, are grieving.
Meri blogged on Thursday morning a post entitled “Aching.” Please take time to read. She lets us into her heart. She is real. She is amazing. And I want you to know Meri if you don’t already. Because I ask you to pray for her. Pray for her boys. Pray for healing now for their hearts. Pray for Meri. Pray for the grieving process she will experience. I pray she goes through each day knowing someone is praying for her. Someone is going to the Father for her when she can’t, when she can’t find the words. Pray that Satan stays away from her & the boys and that those lying voices that say they can’t do this will grow silent. Pray for strength to get through daily, by the moment when necessary. Pray for a peace that passes all understanding. Pray that they feel God’s loving arms around them.
I will never forget in my darkest days early in my Ryan’s diabetes diagnosis that Meri wrote to me and said, “You are stronger than you think you are.” I read it through a flood of tears that blurred the monitor as drops fell on the keyboard. I am sure I am not the only one has ever heard those words from her.
Meri, I say those words to you now. You ARE stronger than you think you are.
And we, your family, your friends, your DOC, are here on the days you need us. And every day. And that same army of prayer warriors that that you called on to pray for Ryan now prays for you. We love you. We are here. Always.