My son started high school today. My little baby is now a high school freshman. I’m not exactly sure how that happened. I swear just yesterday I was rocking him to sleep. And how he’s playing on his high school football team. Where did the time go?  And while I’m excited for this next adventure for him, I hate that his dad isn’t here to see it.

As I dropped him off for his first day of high school this morning, I thought to myself I can’t believe how calm I am. I figured I would be emotional and crying. But then my girlfriend texted me to look at the rainbow. That Jared was definitely watching over our kids this morning.   And I felt my eyes well up with tears and a few of them slip down my cheeks. While I love that he sends me signs to let me know he’s watching over our son, I would give anything to have him be physically present today. To be able to experience this first, this milestone together. But that can’t be so I’ll be happy knowing Jared is watching over our baby boy. And I guess that has to be enough.  

First day of high school. The next step on his journey of life. What an exciting time for my son. So much change. So many new experiences to come. And I am blessed that I will get to watch them. See them unfold in his life. But I will always think I wish his dad was here.

Such is the life of a widowed parent. Marked with bittersweet moments. Those moments when I am bursting with pride. And at the same time I want to cry because Jared is missing.  Those moments that I can’t help but think dammit life isn’t fair. His dad should be here too. Those moments when I am so excited for his future. And at the same time remember his future is missing his dad.  

For us, high school is a whole new world. My son has attended the same school since he was four years old. Everyone knew his dad. And now, now he’s going to a new school where no one knows his dad. Or even knows of his dad. And it hit me, as he grows up and his life moves forward, there will be more people in his life that never knew his dad than people that did. And that hurts my heart. I don’t want his dad to be forgotten. For no one to know the man he was.  The amazing dad he was.

As Steven’s life moves forward, his new friends won’t have any memories or experiences that include his dad.  They will assume that my new husband is his dad. And while I love that Jon is an amazing dad on earth, I don’t want people to forget that Steven has a loving, amazing dad in heaven. A dad who for 10 years gave Steven everything he had. Loved our child unconditionally.  Talked to him and gave him tons of advice. Tried to prepare him for his future. A future that his dad knew he probably would not get to see.

In the 4 years since Jared died, we have had a lot of firsts.  Everyone thinks the firsts happen in the first year. That is not true. We are constantly having experiences that Jared is not a part of. High school marks just one more milestone in our life since Jared died. One more first. Another bittersweet moment.  But with each first, each milestone, we have better coping skills. And while there will always be bittersweet moments and there will always be a little bit of sadness, we are able to hold onto the joy. To celebrate. To feel the excitement. To know that we are blessed that we get to continue to live this life.

Look out high school. Here he comes.


Carla always knew she would be a widow but didn’t have any idea how it would actually feel. When Carla met her late husband Jared, he was waiting for a lung transplant due to Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic disease affecting the lungs and pancreas. So she knew that most likely someday she would say goodbye to her husband. But she never dreamt it would be exactly one week before their 14th wedding anniversary. In August 2014, Jared was diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection in his transplanted lung and was expected to survive at least 6 months if not a year. Instead, he died just 6 weeks later. And in the blink of an eye, Carla became a solo mom to their 10-year-old son. And even though her life was forever marked before and after, she was determined to live life to the fullest because her husband would expect no less.

She founded Breathing for Jared, a Foundation to provide college scholarships to those suffering from lung disease in honor of her late husband. Became a supporter of the CF Foundation and Donate Life. And discovered that writing out her emotions and fears on her blog Transplant Wife and Widow helped her to process her grief

Carla recently remarried and is now blending a family with her new husband, bonus daughter, and son.