When Jared died, I thought I would never survive. I could not imagine surviving. Couldn’t picture my life without him. Certainly never thought I would date. Love again. And absolutely would never get married again. He was the great love of my life. And I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to love like that again.


Fast forward three years. And I met my new husband on a cruise ship. When I first met him, I was not exceptionally nice to him and definitely was not flirty. I was friendly but had no expectations of it being anything more than just making a new friend on a cruise. Six weeks later and I flew to Texas to see him. And that weekend, I knew I was falling in love. That this was a man I could see building a future with.


A year to the date we met, we got engaged. And 13 months later, we were married. And I found myself a remarried widow.


When Jon and I first started dating, he would say I know if Jared walked in the door, you would tell me to leave. That you would take him back and pick up your life where it left off. And Jon would go. Without any fuss or arguement.  Because he loves me that much.


Fortunately, that is not a choice I will ever have to make. Unfortunately, the dead can’t come back. There is absolutely no chance that Jared is going to walk back into our lives. There is zero chance that we could pick up where we left off. Zero chance that we will get a do over. Instead he’s dead. And I had to move forward with my life. Continue to live. Make him proud. Raise our son in a way that would make him beam with pride.


And now, 14 months into married life with my new beginning, I realize that if Jared came back I would no longer automatically choose him. Yes, I will always love him. Yes, I will always miss him. But our lives are so very different now. I am so very different now. I have less tolerance for bullshit. I love deeper and harder. I live by the philosophy that at least no one died. I never say no to adventure. I have absolutely no fear of death. There are certain things that don’t even phase me anymore. And I have a very dark, warped sense of humor. And sometimes I wonder, would Jared love this new me? The woman I became because of his death.


Mostly, I am grateful it’s not a choice I will ever have to make. I don’t want to have to choose between my two loves. I want to be able to continue love the man that was my first great love. Love the life we had together. Be forever grateful that he gave me my greatest gift, our wonderful son. Yes, I will always miss the future I thought we would have together. And I will grieve his loss the rest of my life. But I will always have our memories. And I will always be able to look back to that time with a smile on my face and a heart full of love. I will always carry him in my heart. I will always love him. His love, life, and death  shaped who I am today.


Sadly, when Jared died almost 5 years, our future together died too.  Instead I had to build my own future. And that future now includes a new love. A man God brought into my life when I didn’t even know I needed someone. The man with whom I am now planning a future.


My new husband honors my past.  Feels like he gets to know Jared through the stories we share.  Understands that I will always wish Jared could be here, especially for our son. Is never jealous of my first love.  Instead he welcomes Jared into our lives, honors his space. A man who loves me enough to put my happiness first. So much so, if Jared could come back from the dead, Jon would say go, finish what you started.  


Choosing between my two loves is not something I would ever want to do.  I love them both. Equally but differently. Jared was my first great love.  And Jon is my last great love. One was my past. The other is my future.


As much as I loved my life with Jared, loved our life together, Jon is my future.  And if I had to choose, I think my choice would shock some people. But fortunately, it is a choice I will never have to make.


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.