The holiday season is officially upon us.  And the holidays are such a hard time of year.  Especially for widows.

During this time of year, I always miss Jared even more.  I wish he was here to go to the pumpkin patch. To help Steven carve his pumpkin. To help scare the trick-or-treaters. I wish he was here to go on our annual Thanksgiving ski vacation. To have a snowball fight that ends in laughter. To eat our non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I wish he was here to help us decorate the house for Christmas and put the ornaments on the tree. To go to mass on Christmas Eve as a family. To sing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus on Christmas morning. To see the joy on Steven’s face as he opens his gifts. To join in all the fun, traditions, and spirit of the holiday season. To share in all the things that he is missing and has missed these last 4 years.

The past 12 months have brought about great change in my life.  I am moving forward in ways I could never have imagined. I am now a remarried widow.  But that doesn’t mean the ache for Jared is gone. This year I will celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with my new husband but I will still miss Jared. People are not replaceable. New love doesn’t erase past love.  Creating new memories doesn’t erase old ones. Celebrating the holidays with my new husband doesn’t mean Jared’s absence won’t be felt. We will continue traditions from holidays past and start some new traditions of our own.  But through it all, we will remember Jared.

As Halloween rolls into Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving turns into Christmas, and Christmas becomes New Year’s, I will often think of Jared. As I watch Steven snowboard down the slopes I will think I wish his dad was here. As I put the ornaments on the tree and Jared’s letter in his stocking, I will think damn I wish Jared was here. On New Year’s Eve as the clock strikes midnight, I will think another year is ending and a new one beginning. Another year that will never know Jared.  

I will also enjoy the holidays for all they are now. Count my blessings that I have an amazing son, a loving new husband, and a beautiful bonus daughter.  Feel the excitement of getting to share a kiss with someone special at midnight. To celebrate my first wedding anniversary with my new hubby. To truly be thankful that I have been blessed with two endless love stories with two amazing men. And that just because Jared can’t physically be here to celebrate the holidays, doesn’t mean he won’t be included.  After all, it is because of my love story with Jared that I was able to open my heart to love Jon.

Yes, the holidays are hard. I am constantly reminded that Jared isn’t here.  The he cannot be here to enjoy our traditions and celebrations. But I know that I will always carry him in my heart. That his spirit will be wherever I am.  That there will always be a place for him at my table. And that I can still honor him while celebrating the holiday season with my new husband.

Holidays are hard.  Especially for widows.  This holiday season, honor your love story.  Continue traditions. Or start new ones. Smile at the memories of past holidays.  Or cry. But no matter what, save a place at your table for love.


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.