Friday, March 22, 2013

Miriam Is With God, God Is With Us

My 61-year-old niece Miriam Schrock of Stuarts Draft died Tuesday at the Roanoke Memorial Hospital, just two weeks after having been diagnosed with lymphoma. She was the second oldest daughter of my sister Lucy, who died in 2003, and her gentle pastor father, Alvin Schrock.

Miriam had multiple health problems going back to her having rheumatic fever as a child, and she later suffered from scoliosis, major hip surgery and numerous other conditions, including her recently needing a pacemaker for an ailing heart.

What always impressed me about Miriam was her cheerful smile and her warm, servant-like spirit. I've never heard her complain about anything, ever, although her life was anything but easy, and the last two weeks of her life were especially difficult.

According to notes kept by members of her family, on February 23 Miriam had a bad fall resulting from one of her occasional unexplained blackout spells. That week she went to her doctor, who found that her liver enzymes were elevated and who scheduled a liver scan for her.

By Saturday, March 2, she had become very ill and her skin turned an alarming yellow color. When they took her to Emergicare, the doctor immediately sent her to the Augusta Health hospital. There they attempted to insert a stint to drain fluid from her liver, but her cancerous tumors were apparently already putting pressure on her organs in a way that made that impossible, so she was sent to a specialist at the Roanoke Hospital.

The procedure they attempted in Roanoke caused a rupture in her esophagus, which added to her suffering and made it impossible for her to take any food or liquid through her mouth. But still she endured her pain and hardship like a good soldier, without complaint.

By Saturday her liver had failed and her kidneys were giving out, so on Monday they removed her feeding tube and moved her out of the ICU and into their Comfort Care Unit. There she died at around 2:30 am Tuesday, surrounded by her three sisters and one of her two brothers.

A week prior, Miriam had told her sister Barbara Ann that she heard someone whisper her name in her hospital room, first on one side of her bed then on the other. One of her sisters-in-law, also named Miriam, later wrote the following about that experience that was read at her funeral today:

He whispered my name 
in the dark of the night
in hospital room 864
first on one side
and then on the other;
He whispered, He whispered my name.

Exactly a week later
in the dark of the night
in ICU 1068
at the end of my journey 
as I neared the great Jordan
He called, He called out my name.

And now I am safe
I am healthy and new
The wearisome journey is over.
I know you will grieve,
our love was so deep,
but listen! He whispers your name.

It won't be so long;
you'll join Mother and me
where partings and pain all are past.
Together we'll praise Him,
we'll sing and be glad
with the one who calls us by name.

Condolences to the family may be sent to Miriam's widowed father Alvin Schrock and older sister Barbara Ann, who live at 280 Stuarts Draft Highway, Staunton, VA 24401.

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