Today I took my son to the mall so he could buy my Christmas gift. And not because I need a present but because it’s important to him that he has something to give me under the tree. In the past he has made my cards and gifts but sometimes he just wants to go to the store and buy his mom something special.  Only another solo mom can understand handing your child a credit card, giving them a spending limit, and hoping the sales staff will be kind and helpful.


The first Christmas after Jared died, Steven asked a family member to take him to the store so he could buy me a gift.  And that person said ok but never did. So on Christmas Eve, Steven and I went to the mall and walked around. He walked into a jewelry store and said I know what I’m getting you.  I had given him a price limit so I said ok. The store clerk rang it up and wrapped it. And thus our tradition began.


Over the years, I’ve gotten used to taking Steven to the store to purchase me a gift, card, or such for my birthday or other holidays.  It’s just become a part of our life. But I still wish his dad were here. That he was able to go to the store with his dad, pick out a gift, and be all excited that he bought it. Or that the two of them could sit down and make a card together. Plan a celebration. Like they did when Jared was alive.  I’m so thankful we have those memories.


Since Jared died, the times others have reached out and taken Steven to make or buy my gift have meant the world to me.  


One Valentine’s Day my friend Barb called and said I’m coming to get Steven.  Hours later she brought him home. And he was so excited to show me what Ms Barb had helped him make.  His Valentine mason jar filled with chocolates and the flowers in a pot were a priceless gift I still treasure.


The time my friend Fiona texted to say she was taking him shopping for my Christmas gift.  He couldn’t wait for me to open the beautiful the cross he bought me. It still hangs in my living room today.  


And last year when my new love took him to the mall to shop for my gift together.  Steven picked out a pair of lovely silver earrings. I think of him every time I wear them. And I love knowing they picked them out together.


Christmas and all holidays have changed since Jared died.  The gift under the tree doesn’t matter nearly as much as the people around it.  The gift under the tree doesn’t matter as much as the thought. The gift under the tree doesn’t matter as much as the time spent together.  And for me taking my son to buy a gift isn’t about the gift or the money, it’s about the time together. The experience. And I wish he could spend that time, have that experience with his dad.


I can’t wait to see what I bought him to give me for Christmas.  I’m sure I’ll love it!


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.