Facebook reminded me of a memory that was a turning point in my grief.


In September 2016, I flew to Brazil for work. And I was advised to not wear any valuable jewelry. So for the first time since my husband had died in September 2014, I took off my wedding rings. I also took off my anniversary band, the last gift my late husband ever gave me.   


When I returned home from that business trip, I immediately went to put my wedding rings back on.  And they would NOT GO ON!

I was devastated. I just sobbed. My wedding ring would not go past my knuckle. My anniversary band, my last gift from Jared, went on fine.  Slipped right on. But wedding ring, nope, nada, nothing. I wasn’t sure what to feel. What did it mean? How could my ring fit before my trip and then not fit just a few weeks later? How was that possible? What did it mean?  Was it a sign to move forward? Was I reading too much into it? My emotions are all over the place.

Fast forward four short weeks after my rings would not go on my finger.  I still couldn’t wear my wedding ring. But I remember I was no longer devastated. Maybe it was because I wore my anniversary band so my finger wasn’t naked. Maybe it was because I accepted that I could no longer wear my ring.  Maybe it was because I realized that my wedding ring was only a symbol but my love would live on forever.

I remember feeling extremely guilty that I was no longer devastated. The mind is a funny thing and guilt is a confounding emotion. I felt like I should still be upset that my wedding ring no longer fit on my ring finger of my left hand.

Then I realized perhaps this waa a sign of healing. Of just how far I had come in my grief journey in those first two years.  Perhaps it was an indication that my heart had finally accepted that Jared was never coming home and I was truly his widow. Maybe it meant I was realizing that while I would always love Jared, I no longer felt married.


But even now, two years later it still gives me cause to reflect. To realize that I am a different person now than I was the day I married my late husband. That I am a different person now than I was when he died. That I am a different person now than when I took my wedding rings off.  


I continued to wear my anniversary band for about a year. I was wearing it when I met my new husband. I was wearing it when Jon put a twisty tie on my finger as a symbol of our commitment to each other. For a long time I had the twisty tie and my anniversary band on my finger. A symbol of love and commitment from both of the great loves of my life.  


I don’t remember when I took my anniversary band off.  I just know there was a point when I realized I didn’t need a ring on my finger to remember the love I share with Jared. To remember our bond. To remember our commitment.  


I will always love Jared. There will always be a part of my heart and soul that belong to him. And I don’t need a ring on my finger to prove that.  


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.