Grief is not something you get over or get through. Grief is not predictable nor is it a linear progression. Grief is as unpredictable as a riptide. There is no possible way to know when it will show up and pull you under again. There is no way to know what will set it off. Mine was set off by a milestone reached and an upcoming event of pure joy.

Last month my youngest son, Noah, and I travelled to Florida where we met up with my mother and cousins at my brother’s house to celebrate my son,Wade’s graduation from Palmer Chiropractic College. Watching him walk to get his diploma after 3-1/2 years of hard work was a very proud albeit emotional moment. I’m so proud of the accomplishments of all my sons and I know how proud he would have been of our son Wade the Doctor. Larry had the most beautiful smile and his smile would have been brighter than the moon that night! This riptide had me sobbing on my son’s shoulder during the college champagne reception. Fortunately, his robe was dark and didn’t show tear stains.

There was another moment after our celebration dinner that would have had Larry in tears as well as me. Wade and his beautiful wife, Lynsey are expecting their first baby in August. The due date is Larry’s birthday. After dinner, in front of his family and their friends and fellow graduates, Wade and Lynsey cut into a reveal cake that showed us all the gender of this upcoming source of joy. It’s a Girl!!! Grandpa would have been mush with this baby girl. Not that I’m going to be any better.

After every one else headed home, we got Wade and Lynsey all packed up and helped them move to South Carolina to start the first leg of their next journey. Their new life will be there, in South Carolina, a very long way from Michigan.

So Noah and I are moving. My work as the office manager of a Physical Therapy office has provided me with the perfect experience to help Wade get his new practice off the ground. Plus we will get to be a support system for them and them for us. We long to be closer to family. It’s a win-win for all of us.

These are all such happy life changes that one would think it’s impossible for grief to enter in to the equation. And yet it does. It always does. Grief will always be mixed with my joy. There will always be thoughts of how wonderful it would have been to share these moments with the love of my life. To feel my hand tucked in his, a gentle squeeze to covey our love for each other. To hold our granddaughter and all our future grandchildren. To watch the sun setting in a new state. To grow old together.

I’m looking forward to this new adventure but I will always wonder what it would have been like to have my husband along for the ride.

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.