I've briefly mentioned here something that has been consuming us for these past several weeks: Miriam. Miriam was diagnosed with cancer years ago when she was pregnant with her 9th child. She couldn't undergo chemo because of the baby... but through prayer alone, she's still alive today, and baby #9 is now five years old.
But a month ago she went back to the doctor because she'd been in a lot of pain. She found out that the cancer had spread from her stomach to her bones, breasts and lungs. I started making sure we visited her every time we were in the neighborhood... which for me was painful. It's hard to see someone dying. Like, literally hard. It's hard for me to go inside Miriam's house, knowing that while I'm there she'll pass out every 10 minutes from the pain. It's hard to think that while I'm there she could take her last breath. It's hard to watch her 21 year old daughter, Anabel, put wave a cottoball soaked with alcohol under her nose to wake her up, and it's even harder to here Anabel tell her mom, "Don't leave me yet, not yet mom. And Miriam has 9 kids. Ages 5-23. They're watching their mom die. Can you imagine?
When I walk into Miriam's house, it reeks of urine, because she is unable to get out of bed, and pees on the mattress when she needs to relieve herself. We've been praying with her, praying for her, asking others to pray... knowing that it's really in God's hands. There is a hospice- like care that exists in Costa Rica. But in order to get the care, you first need to get a special note from the doctor to go to another hospital, the "Hospital of Pain." At the "HOP" is where the doctor's decide how close to death you are to be able to send a nurse to your home. Miriam has the note to go to the "HOP" but not the energy to get there. If she can't even get up to go to the bathroom, how will she climb the huge flight of stairs to leave the neighborhood? And then get to the clinic?
And while I see the impossible in this whole situation- the fact that child service wants to take the kids away, the issue of one of the father's coming to Miriam's house and telling her, "Just die already so I can do what I want with the kids, the fact that they are just barely making it every day... I also see the hand of God in the life of this family.
Miriam has had cancer for 5 years, has never had any medical treatment, and is still her. Is that what a miracle looks like?
What about the miracle of little Oscar- the 5 year old child that was conceived at the same time Miriam was diagnosed with cancer, and is a healthy, active little guy.
It's a miracle that they're all in school- and passing their classes.
Every time I see Miriam's kids playing, I think of what a miracle it is, that they have joy in life, despite the fact that they are watching their mother die.
On Saturday Miriam had enough strength to climb the stairs to our Metro van so we could take her to the clinic. It's the first time I've seen her out of her bed in the past 2 months. I am a witness to that miracle.
But I'm also praying for another miracle- the miracle that Miriam's body would be completely healed by the hand of God so she could raise little Oscar and all of his older brother's and sisters.