THE STORY OF ONE FAMILY'S JOURNEY WITH TYPE 1 DIABETES AND CELIAC DISEASE.
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I'm not really sure where to start this post.

I've written it a million times in my heart, but still have no idea what to say.

I suppose I'll go back to the beginning...

I started blogging in August of 2008 using a different URL. (It's since been archived and made private.)  Just about exactly 1 year later, I stumbled upon someone whose friendship would become a very special influence in my life...


At first there were just blog comments.  Then an occasional email.  Facebook was just gaining momentum at that time (or at least for US it was, anyway), and many of the names and faces in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) were still new to us.  There was a small network of moms blogging about life raising children with diabetes (CWD), and we kept up with each other through our respective online journals.

Eventually we decided to take things to the next level.  Yes, my friends...we started to chat.  As in REAL TIME, REAL LIFE banter.  We picked a date and time, and threw it out there to see if anyone else wanted to join us...

(I blogged about it for D-Blog Day in November 2009...)


We chatted every Sunday evening at 7pm (PST) for...probably about 18 months!  New moms came and others moved on.  But some of us were there just about every. single. week. from that very first chat.

And Meri was one of them.

Whether through blog comments, emails, texts, FB messages, or tweets (okay -- not a lot of tweets, but some!)...Meri and I have been in touch with each other almost every single day since the day I found her online three years ago.

You can call it cyber-stalking.  

Or weird.

You can call it nontraditional.

Or say it doesn't count.

But I call it F R I E N D S H I P.

And, even if our friendship is based online...

It's very real.

Over the past few years, Meri and I have discovered just how parallel our lives have been -- yet distinctly contrasted at the same time.    

When Meri and I met for the first time, we squealed like school girls.  We took pictures.  We cried.  I had the pleasure of sitting at her kitchen table over breakfast while she and Ryan shared their love story.  We talked about each of their son's individual diabetes diagnosis, and I witnessed them tag-team carb counting while keeping tabs on who had bolused for what.  

Ryan made Sugar and me some gluten-free pancakes...and I remember the way Meri was laughing while trying to tell him to be careful about cross-contamination -- she talked, he talked, she talked, he talked...laughter....more laughter....and then he stood tall, put his hands on his hips, and declared like Superman...

"WHO IS THE BAKER HERE?  I am the baker.  You go sit down with your computer and do whatever you guys do while I work in here.  Do not disturb the master!"

His bold statement stopped Meri and I in our tracks before we erupted into laughter and wandered out of the kitchen.

It was a hilariously perfect moment.

And it was very, very REAL.

So....

On February 26, 2012...my heart sunk -- or maybe it just stopped beating completely, I'm not sure -- when she sent a message to a few people to say that her husband had spent the day at the ER, and six brain tumors had been discovered on his CT scan.  It would appear the melanoma diagnosis from 2009 had resurfaced, and was rearing it's ugly head...with a vengeance.

I felt so helpless.  So far away.  So afraid for what this could mean for my friend and her family. I posted THIS FB message pleading for someone, anyone, EVERYONE to start praying for my friend, her husband, and their family.

Two days later, she told the world.

In the 187 days that followed, I watched in awe with everyone else as Meri fought through the statistics and the odds to remain hopeful and devoted to her husband through love and faith.  I shared their victories and cried over their struggles.

Throughout his battle, Ryan proved to be a valiant provider for his family.  He loved deeply, and set an example of honor for his sons.  His devotion to Meri was unwavering, steadfast, and endless.    He was a determined fighter and never backed down from fear, even if the journey seemed overwhelming and intimidating.  

On Saturday, Meri and I had a few exchanges.  Her last message sounded upbeat and optimistic.  Ryan had been experiencing some increased muscle weakness over the previous days, but a plan was coming together to help the situation.  Meri was feeling good about getting through the holiday weekend until she could make some phone calls when all the offices re-opened after Labor Day.  Life was coasting along for the Schuhmacher Family.

And then there was Sunday, 9/2/12.

Despite the nature of his diagnosis, Ryan's death was sudden and unexpected.  His loss will leave a hole in the hearts of everyone who knew and loved him.


A celebration of Ryan's life will be held on Saturday, 9/8/12.

Visitation from 9:30-10:30
Memorial Ceremony to commence at 10:30

The DOC is welcome.
If you are interested in attending, please email me for additional details.
candyheartsblog@gmail.com

A giving page has been established in support of Meri and her sons.
Your generosity is appreciated HERE.
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9 comments:

  1. Friendship, no doubt.

    Even though I only had moments here and there at FFL with this amazing family, my heart just about stopped beating when I read the FB update.

    Such an amazing family, with such an amazing love...you could just feel it.

    Wish I could be there, but I'll have to send my love and support through my prayers and on line.

    Please, please give them hugs for me!

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  2. Our "online" friendships are looked down upon some who may not understand. But we know they're real and STRONG and that we hurt when our friends hurt. We cry when they cry. This is one of the times in my life that I wish I had unlimited money. I would be at Ryan's service and I would make sure as many of the D-OC members were there as possible. Instead, I will be praying. For Meri & the boys. For those of us in the D-OC who hurt for the family. And for the continued unity and strength of the D-OC.

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  3. My online friendships are some of my closest friends. I treasure them. I only know this family through her blog and posts on other blogs. My heart aches for Meri and her boys. I will continue to not only pray for her family but pray for all people this has impacted. ((HUGS))

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  4. I am so sorry for Meri and the boys. I read her blog once in a while and she is such a sweet lady! I have a friend whose dad passed away suddenly a couple of months ago, and it hurts. Prayers and hugs to them and everyone they know !

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  5. Wendy, thank you so much for this post. Really special for me to learn about how you two became close. I, too, am a dmama (2 t1 daughters, both celiac) and Meri's blogs and her fb posts and all of it within the DOC has been an inspiration and an uplifting journey for me. Their family's recent struggles, Ryan's cancer, their love, and his death, has affected me profoundly as well, from where I sit in Holland, MI. I, too, screamed out loud and sobbed when I read that fb post on Sunday, and continue to grief for their loss. Can't seem to shake it. I think it's because Meri's messages of love and support and humor, and the gift she has at expressing it all, can somehow be felt so strongly by us dmoms, even if it is through our computers. Enough said, but thank you again for giving us a glimpse into her world.

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  6. So so glad you're going to see Meri and her boys.

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  7. I love our community. People I "met" online have become some of my closest friends.

    I have no idea what the future will look like for Meri's family but I know that we will be there for her.

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  8. It was such a pleasure to meet and chat with you on Saturday. I truly wish it had been under different circumstances, but it was very nice to meet you!

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P.S. (Moderation has been enabled due to mega-spamming sugar cubes.)

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While I'm happy to share our experiences with what works, and what doesn't work, for the management of Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease in our house, please do not mistake anything you read here for medical advice. Decisions regarding your/your child's health care should be made only with the assistance of your medical care team. Use any information from this blog at your own risk.