Thanksgiving is a time of so many great memories. So many Thanksgiving adventures for me to look back on and smile.  


We have never been a traditional Thanksgiving kind of family.  For us, Thanksgiving equals travel. Adventure. Exploring someplace new.  Not turkey, stuffing, and casseroles. Yuck! I think my 14 year old son has only had 2 traditional Thanksgivings in his entire life. Instead, he has usually spent Thanksgiving on the slopes or on a surfboard.  


The last Thanksgiving Jared was alive we spent in Lake Tahoe. Jared could no longer ski but he enjoyed watching Steven and I race down the mountain.  And Steven would be so mad that I could ski down faster than he could snowboard down the mountain. Now, four years later, I think he could take me. How I wish Jared could see Steven now.  So confident. Able to do the run without anyone else. No longer needing a parent waiting for him. Things have changed so much.


In 2014, we were planning to spend Thanksgiving on the black sand beach in Costa Rica. So Steven could surf and Jared and I would lounge on the beach and watch.  But then Jared died in September. And I didn’t know what to do. The thought of going hurt but the thought of staying home hurt more. So Steven encouraged me to pack our suitcases and go.  And we did. And I felt Jared’s presence so much in a country he had never visited. It was a hard trip but one I’m glad we took. Jared was proud of us for going, carrying on our tradition, for living.  Of that I am certain.


The next year we did something completely unexpected.  We stayed home. We celebrated the holiday with friends who are like family.  And my girlfriend made a place setting fur Jared. Made sure he was always welcomed at her table.  It meant more to me than words can say. It was a truly amazing holiday. And I’m so grateful we broke with tradition.  It was just what we needed.


Thanksgiving 2016, Steven, my mom, and I took a cruise through the Panama Canal.  We had hit the slopes over spring break so we decided to cruise with grandma for Thanksgiving.  And the unexpected happened. And it’s all my girlfriend Lynda’s fault for making me promise to dance. (Thank you Lynda).  The second night of our cruise, this man walks into the lounge and asks if he can sit beside. I said I didn’t care. We started chatting.  My wine glass broke and cut my finger. Hours and 2 stitches later, I came out of medical to see him waiting for me. We had a drink and the rest is history.  Last year, our two families headed to Park City for some fun in the slopes. And on our year anniversary, Jon proposed. So much had changed in a year.


Thanksgiving holds so many wonderful memories for me.  Jared, Steven, and I shared so many happy holidays. So many adventures.  So many wonderful memories. A lifetime of experiences in a limited amount of time.  And I wouldn’t change a one. I am so grateful for all those moments. All those memories.  Memories are all I have now. And I cherish each and every one of them.


And now I am creating new Thanksgiving memories with my new husband.  We still travel for Thanksgiving (I don’t want to break that tradition). This year we will be in Vail.  Steven will be snowboarding. And I’ll be jealous. Since my neck surgery last year, skiing is off limits for me but I’ll sit in the lodge and watch Steven enjoy riding down that mountain. We will snowmobile, take a sleigh ride, and ice skate..  Fun family memories


And Jared will be happy.  Smiling down from heaven. Watching Steven.  Knowing we are living and loving. He would encourage me  to make the most of every moment. And that’s exactly what I intend to do.


Whatever you do, however you celebrate, Happy Thanksgiving.  Make the most of the day. Create lots of memories. Love the people you’re with.  And save a place for those who can no longer sit at the table. Thanksgiving for me is all about adventure.  I’ll be on a snowmobile thinking of how blessed I am. Making new memories while treasuring my memories of past Thanksgivings.


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.