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A Wife's Long Goodbye

“So 2016 in November is actually when I started journaling,” said Jane Briggs.  “There would be moments, few moments where he was ‘Larry,’ then it was all the symptoms, all the time, full blown.”

A year and a half had passed since Jane Briggs’ husband Larry had what doctors called a “mini-stroke” in mid 2015. It was the first of many episodes as they started coming months, then weeks, then days apart.

Jane said, “Memory, speech, jaw-dropped face, all the things you would look for a stroke. So we would go to the hospital, spend 3 or 4 days running tests.”

Dr. Kishor Dahbi added, “Multiple hospitalization, multiple checkup by all the specialists that we can think of.”

By the two-year mark, the episodes were coming daily but doctors still had no diagnosis. Larry, a police chaplain and staff member at his church, had to step away from both jobs. Watching Larry slip away mentally and physically, Jane poured her heart into her journal as she clung to hope, and prayer.

She said, “I know that there were people, who had their friends, their friends and their friends were praying. It was their prayers that, you know, gave me wisdom, gave me strength, gave me help through the day. It was prayer.”

Eventually Larry needed round-the-clock care, unable to even dress himself.  Kathy Kaufman, a registered nurse, and friend of the Briggs, was there to help.

“It was sad. He wouldn’t remember who you were from week to week. And just, a blank stare,” Kathy said.

“We were at church when he asked who the man was standing up there, and that was our son,” Jane said. “It's like a switch that goes off and he could no longer walk, the switch would turn off and he could no longer feed himself. Off and on, off and on and then finally off.”

Still, the prayers continued.

“God can heal him, fine. God can take him, fine. I'll continue where we are, fine,” said Jane. “So I didn’t know if that was God’s plan, but I was gonna trust Him if it was, then I would be at peace.”

Finally, in May 2017 a team of doctors at the University of Virginia neuroscience center, diagnosed Larry with Lewy Body Dementia. It’s a brain disorder that brings on progressive dementia, as well as symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. After two and a half years, Larry was beyond treatment.

Jane said, “You probably have about, two weeks. And they were right. It was about nine days when Larry lost everything. He couldn’t feed himself, he was lost.”

At least, at first…

“And then he walks in and says, "Hey, I really feel good." And I said, “I see that.” I’m just standing at the door, sort of frozen, and I realize he’s walking,” said Jane.

Larry was up, dressed and ready to go to the weekly prayer meeting at church.

Jane said, “I’m driving, and he’s just as if, nothing’s happened. I knew he was back.”

At home, Kathy was concerned Jane was hanging on to a false hope.

Kathy said, “And a lot of people get better before they get worse. They have that little period where they start looking better and they do all the things they want to do and talk to their families, and then they die. Until he, kept getting better and kept getting better and kept getting better.”

THREE MONTHS LATER

Larry said, after arriving at UVA, “'Hey, Doc, I'm healed. God's healed me.' And he just stood back and he examined me and had me walk, back and forth, and he just shook his head and said, 'Wonderful!'  It's literally like I went to bed one night, woke up 2½ years later.”

Larry was retested and all results came back normal.

Dr. Dabhi said, “He looks totally different. Because to me it's just unbelievable.”

“It makes you really look at your faith. You look at things a little less clinically and a little more spiritually,” said Kathy.

As for Larry, it wasn’t until he read Jane’s journal that he realized the miracle God had given him.

He said, “2½ years, I don't have any memory of my life at all. I honestly believe every morning when I wake up it's a gift.”

“God wants people to know that He’s in your life, every day. Even in the middle of the hardest, darkest, broken moments, He’s there. He’s there,” said Jane.

Learn more about Larry's story in Jane's book, The Long Goodbye.

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