There are moments in our lives that forever change us. Most of these moments are planned or at least expected; graduations, marriage, birth of a child – those moments are thrilling. There are also moments that take us completely by surprise. The most profoundly life altering moment of my life came as a complete surprise when I was 31.

At 31 I was a divorced, single mother with a 5 year old son, living in Denver. I had just gotten promoted to Corrosion Technician at a natural gas pipeline company. In my eyes my life was perfect. I had my son, a great job with a company vehicle, my own townhouse and great friends we’d met a church. I was happy and at peace. At least I thought I was. 
January 24, 1995 would prove me wrong. 
My new job required me to attend corrosion conferences. These are very stimulating events with seemingly endless slide shows of various forms of corrosion on various forms of metallic structures. (Insert yawn). Sitting in the row in front of me and slightly to the right was a very handsome man who was much more interesting to look at than the pitting corrosion slides that were being discussed. The only problem was he kept looking back and catching me looking at him.
It was this day that I first heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the first session I very clearly heard God tell me, “This is the man you’ve been waiting for.”
Um, excuse me? I’m not waiting for any man. Been there, done that. I’m perfectly fine. Besides, he hasn’t even said hi or anything. At the end of the break as we were all retuning to our seats he said hi. Very funny!
Later that evening at a local Mexican restaurant where a group of us went to eat, this handsome man made sure he was sitting next to me. He was left handed and seated at my right. There was considerable elbow bumping. A tradition at this particular restaurant is buying their t-shirts off from the waiters. The woman at my left bought one of the t-shirts and asked me to smell it. That shirt was the catalyst that changed my life. That shirt smelled really good!
I asked said handsome man on my right to smell the shirt to see if he recognized the cologne on it. Little did I realize it but his sense of smell was beyond good. He already knew that the cologne on that shirt was the same cologne he was wearing and out came the worst pick-up line ever. “No, you smell my neck.”
I did. My world changed for ever in that moment. 5 1/2 weeks later Larry invited me to be his wife and I said yes. We had an almost perfect, very happily, but not quite ever after. The most wonderful 14 years of my life ended when Larry died in my arms on November 8, 2008 after exactly one year of fighting Glioblastoma Multiforme IV brain cancer.
I’ve dealt with many forms of grief in my life but nothing shook my soul like his death. I’ve been on my knees in this struggle. I’ve begged God to bring him back so I could try harder. I’ve yelled and screamed at God, angry that he would bring my wonderful husband to me only to take him from me so soon. I’ve begged God to give me cancer as well so that I could be with my Larry again. And I’ve survived. By the grace of God I have created a new normal. By the grace of God I can see a future. It’s been messy. It’s been hard. It’s been a journey I would not wish on anyone.
If you’re on it, I’m sorry. I’m also here to help.
Forever Changed - Living with the Loss of a Spouse

Shelley Brandon

My bio is rather complex and like most people's starts at birth, or maybe before. I was adopted as an infant by very special and very loving parents. Pretty normal and average childhood with two younger brothers. Married at 22, motherhood at 25, divorced single parent at 29. Blessed at 31 with a new chance at love and the family I'd always wanted. Eight months later two of my sons lost their mother to pneumonia. Our blended family was tossed by the waves of grief from the beginning. The waves became a tsunami when my wonderful husband died 14 years later. Grief has been my shadow for nearly 20 years now, but life is still good when you're standing in the light.