An Unexpected Journey

“Our kids were meeting with me asking me to leave the marriage and take them with me.”

An Unexpected Journey

Larry:  My name is Larry. My wife Rachel and I were married for 26 years. We have three children, 2 girls and a boy. We were sailing along as a family until Rachel became more distant, more controlling, and putting it bluntly, just not nice to be around. It was a gradual process. I felt our marriage was drifting away and our kids felt their mother was on them all the time (more than teenagers usually feel). Our kids were meeting with me asking me to leave the marriage and take them with me.

Then, Rachel fell. We were at a basketball game. We usually sit at the top so we have a backrest of sorts (the wall). I made it to the top and Rachel was no longer with me. She had fallen. Rachel did not get physically hurt. She then told me she had been falling of late, but did not tell anyone.

The short story is, a neurologist eventually diagnosed her with Parkinsonism. After 2 specialty visits, one to Mayo a year later, and to a study in San Francisco two years later, the diagnosis of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) was made. PSP is a very rare, younger onset dementia that affects vision, balance, executive function (cooking, driving, etc.). To say it was difficult to change from being angry at her behavior to knowing there is a reason is an understatement, especially for the kids. For me, I switched from feeling not cared for, not in a marriage, to a caretaker. Balancing caretaking of my wife and the kids was very difficult.

Our youngest son had significant issues in high school and almost failed two years. He was an A and B student before all this. Fortunately, with the help of his teachers, friends, family, and a counselor, he is doing very well in his now first year of college. I did some things when I was down before a diagnosis was made that I have asked forgiveness for. The biggest obstacle has been forgiving myself. I feel horrible for things I have done in the past. I was looking for someone to accept me for who I was and to love me. I know I was in the wrong. As Rachel’s disease progressed, she endured a fractured ankle requiring surgery, a fractured pelvis, a broken neck and back.  As The Casting Crowns song, “Scars in Heaven” says, she had scars along the way physically and mentally.

The pandemic became a reality and in some ways, was a blessing for our family. All the kids were home for a time and spent time with their mother. It was not the time that they would have wanted, but it was time that they would not have had. We knew that Rachel would pass away from her illness but she progressed much quicker than expected. She asked to be placed in assisted living in September 2020 and passed away in early January 2021. We were relieved she was free of disease and pain but the void left is so difficult for me.
I feel the kids and our family are doing well and I am getting there. I have heavily depended on music over the past 3-4 years. Several Matthew West songs, “Truth be Told,” “The God Who Stays,” “Take Heart” (mainly), and even “Gobble Gobble!” “Scars in Heaven,” “Into the Sea,” “Better Boat,” (Kenny Chesney) and so many more.

Rachel was a wonderful person. She was a stay at home mother and was gifted with music. She played piano for church choir, local school choirs, festival choirs, and was a gifted mother and singer. We miss her greatly. I am not sure if you can use this story but I wanted to let you know your music was instrumental (pun intended) in my journey and still is to this day. I was fortunate to find out about your concert with The Casting Crowns in Oshkosh, WI a few days ago and went with some of my wife’s friends who live in the area. I thought Matthew West was the headliner so I was bummed a bit but the concert was just what I needed during my journey.

I believe with time, talking with friends and family, continuing to see my counselor, continue singing (I like to sing), continuing piano lessons (in honor of my wife), doing things with our kids, supporting our kids, and listening to your music (and others on K-Love), continuing to read devotions and the Bible, and prayer, I will get through this.

Thank you for your part in my journey.

“I’m getting there…”

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Matthew likes to call the moment he decided to follow God his " Blue Couch" moment. When you craft your story, you can share your "Blue Couch" moment or other stories where you have seen God at work in your life.
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