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February 14, 2014
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Real life love in the Vail Valley

Editor’s note: We received nearly two dozen entries for the annual TV8/Vail Daily Tell Us Your Love Story contest. We’re running the three winning entries in today’s paper but look for some of the other, very touching submissions in Saturday’s High Life section.

She’ll wear a white veil attached to a new hat a friend made just for the occasion and her snowboard boots. He’ll don a sport coat and a bow tie, along with his usual snowboard gear.

At 10:30 this morning, at the wedding deck near Eagle’s Nest atop Vail Mountain, Lane Gillespie and Jim Muguerza will make a lifetime commitment to each other. The “in sickness or in health” part of the vows will ring especially true.

Today marks the one-year anniversary since the couple officially began dating. They’d be the first to tell you they didn’t picture themselves getting married a year in. But things change. Specifically, life changed in October, when Lane, age 29, was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of small-cell ovarian cancer. The months since have been a whirlwind. Lane had surgery and started chemotherapy in November, the same month the couple got engaged near the top of Chair 11 on Vail Mountain.

“We’d been talking about it for awhile but it was still a big surprise,” Lane said.

“We both know we are rushing into things but we truly feel we are meant for each other, we are soul mates,” Jim writes in his winning entry for the annual Vail Daily/TV8 Tell Us Your Love Story contest. “She is everything I ever wished for in a woman, I feel truly blessed every time I wake up to her beautiful face and smile.”

And while Lane’s prognosis isn’t good — 6 months to two years, according to her oncologist — her and Jim are steadfastly optimistic. “We’re hopeful I can do better than that. I’m pursuing a life that will make me happy,” Lane said.

And of course, a big part of that happiness is each other.

So congratulations Jim and Lane. We wish you all the best on your journey. And to our other two contest winners, Mark and Karie Grayson and Candace Broecker and Brian Loftus: we’re so very happy you found love and we’re grateful that you shared your story with us. Cheers to love!

— Caramie Schnell, cschnell@vaildaily.com

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Love at 10,328 feet

Jim Muguerza and Lane Gillespie

Love is an amazing, crazy thing and until you experience true love you really can’t understand what all the hype is. Fourteen months ago, I would have told you that to find love is impossible. Now, I am happy to say that it can happen to anyone, you just have to be patient. Here is our love story.

I met Lane seven years ago by way of a mutual friend who I actually dated for a few months. When I first meet Lane, I thought she was very beautiful, down to earth and she was an awesome snowboarder. I had a secret crush on her while I was seeing her friend but I was a good boy and never showed any interest. My relationship with Lane’s friend was short but we remained friends. The following season Lane’s friend returned to work at Vail Resorts, which meant Lane would come to visit and ride. That second season we all three were riding the mountain and Lane’s friend got tired and wanted to take a break. She told Lane and I to take a run while she rested. It was a powder day and knowing Lane was a great rider, I wanted to show her that I could rip powder. We had an awesome run shredding pow side by side in Blue Sky and by the time we got to the bottom of the lift, the sparks where flying. Still though, with me dating Lane’s friend, and Lane and her being good friends, I did not make any advances. The season went on, Lane’s friend moved back to Boulder and that was the last I saw of Lane.

For the next 5 years, I was the typical single male in Vail. I went out on a couple of dates but working graveyards and not being into the bar scene, it was very tough for me to find any prospects. Every now and then Lane would run through my mind and I would wonder what she was up to and where she was at but I had no way of getting a hold of her. Then one day, while checking my email I noticed an email from her regarding splitboards. I am not one to check my email often and was upset to notice the message was a good four or five months old. I replied immediately and hoped for a response. She did and we started hanging out once the snow started to fly. We both had split boards, so we started to tour the back country together.

The more we hung out, the more I was falling in love with her and finally I told her how I had a crush on her since the first time I met her. Luckily, she told me she had felt the same ever since that one powder run. February of last season we made our relationship official on the 14th. Everything was going great, she was everything I wanted and dreamed of in a woman. She loved being outdoors and was as passionate about snowboarding as I was. She loved to rock climb, backpack and ride motorcycles. I was totally in love with this woman.

Things took a wild turn for us 10 months into the relationship when she got diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her doctor said she had 6 months to 2 years to live. I was extremely scared for her and in complete disbelief. Here I was after years of being patient, waiting and wondering if the universe would send someone my way, to have finally found her and then have cancer threaten to take her away. It was a huge shock and a life altering hit to the relationship.

Marriage was a decision that neither of us ever wanted to take lightly. However, given the circumstances, I asked her to marry me she said yes. We are now getting married on our one-year anniversary on Valentine’s Day. We both know we are rushing into things but we truly feel we are meant for each other, we are soul mates. She is everything I ever wished for in a woman, I feel truly blessed every time I wake up to her beautiful face and smile. I feel I am the luckiest man alive and am proud to say that she feels the exact same about me. So, if you are on the mountain on Valentine’s Day and see someone wearing a black suit jacket or a veil, give us a congratulatory shout out!

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Finding love again

Candace Broecker and Brian Loftus

How do you go on when your childhood sweetheart, the love of your life, someone to whom you have been married to for more than 40 years, dies of a brain tumor or, as in Brian’s case, cancer of the breast or any other cause? You and your children have certain expectations for the rest of your lives and theirs and suddenly everything changes. My libido went into neutral and I determined that the “love” part of my life was over. I endured months and years of sadness with the belief that I could never find again what I had experienced with my husband. I dated numerous men, some of whom I had known when my husband was alive, some whom I met through friends and some through an internet site. I met many very nice, intelligent, kind men but there was no spark and I wondered if in your 60s love felt different. I determined that unless I could feel that “spark” of love again I would rather remain single.

I resigned from the website and made plans to spend the rest of my life as a single woman, traveling with friends and family and enjoying my children and grandchildren. Even though you resign from the site they continue to send your profile out to men hoping to encourage them and you to rejoin. I would continually receive emails telling me that someone had seen my profile and wanted to be in touch with me, but I usually ignored them. One day I received such an email and decided to open it. It was from a man who sounded wonderful with the same interests, etc. who had lost his wife to breast cancer a year earlier. The woman he described that he was looking for seemed to be me and I decided to rejoin and correspond with “silverbrian.” We were separated by many miles, and it was almost two months before we could actually arrange to meet. In the meantime, we wrote frequently and sent pictures but did not even talk on the phone until a week before we actually met in person. Finally, we arranged to meet and have dinner in Chicago.

He picked me up at a friend’s at 6:30 p.m. and we closed the restaurant. When the valet brought Brian’s car, he swept me into his arms and kissed me and I discovered that love and chemistry are the same in the 60s as they are at any other age. The next night we had dinner and saw a play with some dear friends of mine and on Valentine’s Day I returned to Florida and Brian returned to his Vail home. We spoke on the phone daily and two weeks later I flew to Vail to meet his daughter and her husband and to spend a week. One week became two and our relationship blossomed. We now live together and are traveling all over the world. Our children and extended families have been wonderful and I am grateful each day for this wonderful man and for the joy and excitement that have returned to my life and his. It has been a magical, passionate and fulfilling journey thus far and I look forward to the future with renewed enthusiasm.

I share this story because I want to encourage others who may feel that they can never experience the wonderful joy of love again — they can.

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‘The best decision of my life’

Mark and Karie Grayson

We actually met when Mark was 18 and I was 14. His younger brother and I had a “thing” (read teenage crush) for each other and when he introduced me to his older brother, Mark, how could I have known that I had just met my future husband? How could I have known that four years later we would meet up in college and three years after that, on June 14, 1984, I would make the best decision of my life ... I would become Mark Grayson’s wife?

How could I have known that becoming his wife would mean supporting him through 28 years of protecting and defending our country as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, 19 military moves, seven children — five girls two boys, one of those babies born while he was gone — and 30 years together? How could I have known that through it all, that June morning in 1984 would STILL be the best day of my life?

How could I have known that even more importantly, though, Mark would spend the last 30 years protecting and defending our marriage? I know that I am No. 1 in his life. Every Friday I will, invariably, get a phone call, email, or text asking me to be his date for the evening. We have 30 years of memories filled with fun Friday nights. We have floated down the Eagle River on inner tubes, played tennis, and shipped the kids off to Grandma’s so that we could have a candlelight fettuccine dinner that we made together from scratch.

We have rented a convertible and have driven up in the mountains for a dinner under the stars. We have gone for bike rides in the rain, flown kites, and sent each other on scavenger hunts. How could I have known that, when one of the kids was sick or a baby sitter canceled at the last minute, a date night in could be just as fun as one when we went out? On those nights we would put the kids to bed early and play a card game and make Orange Julius’, or wear our Chinese pajamas — specially made for the event — and eat Chinese takeout while watching a Jackie Chan movie. How could I have known how fun these memories would be?

How could I have known that mixed with those fun date nights would be endless kind acts that I would be a recipient of; my favorite perfume purchased, hot chocolate brought to my bedside to wake me up on a Saturday morning, or a note left on the mirror telling me how beautiful he thought I was?

What I didn’t know then but what I know now is that romance for me isn’t about steamy romance novels or sappy love songs. Romance is about my husband opening the door for me, or writing a note and leaving it on the counter telling me that the roads are slick and to be careful as I drive. Romance is a man who, after a long day at work flying military missions, is willing to pull the vacuum out and help clean up the house. Romance is about going out to my car and finding that the snow has already been scraped off and the engine warmed up. Romance is a man who is willing to go through life with me, hand in hand. It is about having a best friend; someone who can see me at my worst and love me in spite of it.

How could I have known when I was 14 that I had met the man who would steal my heart? I couldn’t have. I’ve had the chance to live the last 30 years and experience it for myself.


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The VailDaily Updated Mar 24, 2014 02:57PM Published Feb 14, 2014 03:19PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.