A Texas woman who divorced her husband later became his legal guardian — and is caring for him alongside her new husband.
Kris Armstrong, 38, and Brandon, 38, tied the knot in August 2006 after a relationship that began as happy high school sweethearts.
But two years into their marriage, Kris received a life-changing phone call: her husband was hit by a semi-truck in a horrific car crash.
“It’s the phone call nobody wants to get — saying Brandon had been in an accident,” she told South West News Service.
“I was 24 with my whole life ahead of me. It was incredibly heartbreaking.”
Brandon’s condition was so unstable the medical team wouldn’t confirm whether he was dead or alive and warned his young wife that he likely wouldn’t survive, New York Post reported.
He was in a coma for two months and was left with severe brain damage.
“I felt very hopeless in the early days,” Kris recalled. “I was grieving him even though he was alive.”
After some time, Brandon began to recover, but even now he relies on others to get through the day.
He uses a wheelchair and needs help with eating, using a toilet and getting dressed; he also struggles with his short-term memory and speech.
Kris initially moved her husband back home with her but quickly admitted she couldn’t take care of him on her own. She decided to move him into a nursing home five minutes from their house, though she continued to be his primary caretaker.
Two years after the car crash, Kris finally came to terms with the fact that it was time to build a new life.
“I had a pivotal moment — it’s OK to grieve. It’s OK to miss him,” she told SWNS. “I realised I had to let go and love this new person now.”
She began to look into becoming Brandon’s legal guardian at the same time she started divorce proceedings.
“The judge asked me, ‘What happens if you get married again?’ I said, ‘He’s my family. I’ll love him and take care of him until the day I die,’ ” Kris recalled.
She also decided to go back to school and began studying to become a speech pathologist.
“I was looking for something to find meaning. Speech therapy resonated with me,” Kris explained.
As part of the process of rebuilding her life, Kris also began online dating — and then met her now-husband James, 36.
The pair chatted for several weeks online before deciding to meet in person and quickly introduced each other to the important people in their lives.
Kris met James’ son on their first in-person meeting — and James met Brandon the next day. Kris still remembers coming out of the bathroom and seeing James and Brandon embracing.
“I’m so happy James and Brandon get along,” she said, noting how James helps her care for Brandon with love and compassion.
Kris and James got married in September 2016 and have since welcomed two daughters together, ages five and three. The loving family considers Brandon an integral part of their lives, often taking him out for a bite to eat and to church or bringing him home for a visit.
Kris vows she will never live farther than five minutes away from him.
“It’s such a gift that [when] we talk about family, we talk about Brandon,” Kris said. “I don’t discount the fact that I’m so grateful to have this beautiful family.”
She was really struck one day when Brandon — who “doesn’t often say much that makes sense,” she said — told her he wanted to grab a beer with James.
“I knew there was a connection,” she told SWNS.
“I’ll never not be sad that Brandon didn’t get to live his life,” Kris said, adding that “Brandon has more people to love him now.”
This story originally appeared on the New York Post and reproduced with permission